ATLANTA -- At the end of his CD, ĎCovering the Bases,í on a cover version of the Standellís classic "Dirty Water," pitcher/guitarist/singer Bronson Arroyo proclaimed loudly, "Boston, youíre my home!"
That, of course, is no longer the case. Sort of. Arroyo still hasnít sold the Back Bay condo he purchased shortly before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds towards the end of spring training (more on that condo later).
His baseball address, however, has changed from Fenway Park to the Great American Ball Park. And while he was shocked and more than a little upset about being dealt to the Reds on March 19 in exchange for Wily Mo Pena, Arroyo is enjoying his spot atop the surprising Redsí rotation more than he thought he would.
"Now that Iíve been here, Iíve had time to reflect a little bit and not be so bitter about being traded," he said in a phone interview. "Itís really cool. In Boston, I enjoyed being near the bottom of the rotation, doing my thing. Here, I canít do that. Iíve got to be at the forefront, Iím one of the main guys, me and (Aaron) Harang. If I donít get it done, we donít get it done. Thereís more weight on my shoulders. On the other hand, itís a little more relaxed. You donít feel the do-or-die pressure to win every time."
Of course, it doesnít hurt that heís 8-3 with a 2.51 ERA and almost certainly heading to his first-ever All-Star Game, and that the Reds are in second place in the N.L. Central and have been one of the surprises of the first half of the season.
"If I was 4-5 with a 5.00 ERA, I wouldnít be enjoying it so much," Arroyo admitted. "But I can have a good time anywhere, in any ballpark. I still miss the buzz of 35,000 people in Fenway Park. Thatís what Iím always going to miss. Everything else is good."
The Sox could certainly use him right now. At the time he was dealt, Boston had a glut of starting pitching, so much so that Arroyo was (happily) slated to begin the season in the bullpen. Things sure have changed.
Since then, David Wells has been on the disabled list three times and his career may now be over. Matt Clement and his 6.61 ERA are also currently on the DL. Over the past month, the Sox have trotted out the likes of Lenny DiNardo and David Pauley to fill the fifth spot in the rotation. Tonight, they will trot out Kyle Snyder, who was recently released by what may end up being the worst team in baseball history (the Royals) after just one horrific start.
Meanwhile, Arroyo is tied for second in the N.L. in wins, is third in ERA and canít help reveling a little bit while general manager Theo Epstein catches some heat.
"Nothing against Theo, I still love him to death," Arroyo said, "but if somebody trades you, obviously you want to go somewhere else and put up numbers to (say), ĎYou guys messed up, I was more of a valuable commodity than you thought.í I think anybody who gets traded feels like that, if they wanted to stay."
"I know (Theo is) probably catching some heat," he continued. "The better Iím pitching over here, the more heat heís probably going to take."
Arroyo says that he and the Reds are creating "a kind of buzz around here in Cincinnati" (though their 8-1 loss to the White Sox on Sunday completed an awful, 2-8 homestand).
"Itís a traditional baseball town," he said. "I donít think weíre going to sell out the stadium every night like in Fenway, unless weíre in the World Series or something. But thereís more interest everywhere I go. People are saying that weíre bringing baseball back to life here."
Still, he watches the Sox whenever he can on satellite TV and keeps in touch with teammates like Kevin Youkilis, DiNardo and Clement. It takes Arroyo about a nanosecond to think of the moment that best crystallized how much he missed playing in Boston.
"When I was watching the Patriots, Day game, (Mark) Loretta in the bottom of the ninth, two-out home run," he recalled. "Watching that, I was just like, ĎThis is what Iím talking about. Itís unbelievable.í Patriotsí Day, the whole town is buzzing as is. These things seem to happen in that town that donít happen anywhere else, except maybe New York, on a weekly basis.
"Those are the things you miss the most."
Thereís no doubt Arroyo would love to be a Red Sox again someday. And that brings us back to that Back Bay condo. After the trade, Arroyo was going to rent it out to Wells, but Boomer needed more room. He wound up renting it out to Dustan Mohr, but once he was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket a couple of weeks ago, Mohr got out of the lease. Now, heís renting it out to some businessmen.
"Iíll be renting it out for the next three years," said Arroyo. In other words, the length of his contract with the Reds. Then, he might be able to move back in on a more permanent bases.
Perhaps heíll be able to move in before then? Say, around July 31? Umm Ö no, not happening.
"Iím too much of a bargain," Arroyo said, before adding with a chuckle, "(the Reds) went out and got a Porsche for $10,000."
Actually, $11.25 million over the next three years --- $ 1.5 million of which is being paid by the Red Sox, who, at least right now, have to be ruing the day they traded away Bronson Arroyo.