Bronson Arroyo is having trouble with a slightly bulging disk in his back and was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The news first came from MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
In the overall scheme of things, it might turn out to be a minor issue. But, right now, it can't be seen as anything other than a red flag for Arroyo and the 2014 D-backs.
The 37-year-old Arroyo was signed late in the offseason to a two-year deal worth $23.5 million. Although I liked the signing of Arroyo, it seemed like the D-backs paid well above market value for a player who had few options at that point of the winter.
Part of the attraction to Arroyo was his durability and the fact that the D-backs wouldn't have to surrender a draft pick for signing him. The ability to pencil in Arroyo for 200 innings, double-digit wins and the knowledge that he would take the ball every fifth day was a very valuable thing for the D-backs to bank on.
If Arroyo comes to the desert and immediately starts having health issues, then this deal will lead to a lot of questions for D-backs general manager Kevin Towers. Towers doesn't sound too concerned yet in this article from AZ Central's Zach Buchanan. There still is time in the spring and Arroyo has a history of overcoming injuries and illness as Towers points out.
Towers had to bring in a veteran arm like Arroyo due to the inconsistency and struggles of Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill. The D-backs are giving both pitchers plenty of opportunity to gain spots in the starting rotation this spring, but have no idea what to expect from either. The early returns show that McCarthy has been very good while Cahill has continued to struggle. Both pitchers will need to give the D-backs more this year.
Which is why the signing of Arroyo was so important for Arizona. He has been nothing but consistent in his major league career, giving the D-backs some stability in the rotation to go along with young lefties Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley. Arroyo also allows the D-backs to take their time with talented prospect Archie Bradley, although he has been very impressive this spring.
But, a bulging-disk issue for a 37-year-old starting pitcher has to be a concern, especially when Arroyo just passed a team-administered physical in order to be signed. Which means that this injury, even if it is minor, is something that has come about since Arroyo signed with Arizona.
Arroyo will be shut down for seven to 10 days in order to give his back time to heal. Arroyo was already behind the rest of the pitching staff after signing right before the D-Backs reported for spring training. This might raise the question of his ability to be on the 2014 Opening Day roster.
This delay could allow the D-backs to take it very easy with Arroyo. By having him start the season on the disabled list, it would allow the D-backs to target the first week of April without having Arroyo rush back to meet an arbitrary deadline. The team could also get Bradley's feet wet at the major league level.
If the D-backs are to contend for a playoff spot this year, they will need Arroyo to be healthy and in the starting rotation.