CINCINNATI — Amir Garrett sees himself as Bronson Arroyo in about 16 years.
Garrett, 24, is just beginning his major league career and is off to an astonishing start — 2-and-0 with a 1.42 earned run average in his first two starts.
Arroyo, 40, probably should be relaxing every day in Florida with a fishing rod and a margarita instead of pitching in the Cincinnati Reds rotation.
BUT COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING, the 24-year-old kid and the 40-year-old veteran have the same bodies — long, slim and fat-free. And Garrett savors the advice Arroyo gave him.
“He told me, ‘Take are of your body,’ that’s it,” said Garrett. “Like he told me, ‘I’m not going to stop playing this game until my arm give out or they rip the jersey off my back.’
“He is 40 years old and still playing the game he loves, still in the major leagues” Garrett said of Arroyo. “A lot of guys aspire to be like Bronson, to be that age and still be able to compete at a high level. I only hope that I’ll be able to play that long. Whatever he is doing, I want to be part of it. He is eating his Wheaties, man.”
WHILE PITCHING HIS TWO major league games and throwing 12 scoreless innings to start his career. Garrett stood on the mound as if that little hill is his personal property and he dares anybody to set foot on it. His motto could be,
‘Don’t tread on my mound.’
And that’s why before every inning he walks to the back of the mound and draws a huge ‘A’ in the dirt. That’s ‘A’ as in Amir.
“That’s something I’ve always done since I began pitching,” he said. “I look at it as if, ‘That’s my mound, that’s my domain. That’s my home right there.’ I do it every game, every inning, carve that ‘A’ in there.
“I’ve done it for as long as I can remember, drew it in there and it stayed with me,” he added. Somebody said it might also mean that Garrett is bringing his A-game into every start. He laughed and said, “I hope so. Sometimes I don’t bring my A-game but the A will still be there.”
NOT ONLY DOES GARRETT PROTECT the mound like a junkyard dog, or like his pit bull Dozer (“His name is Dozer because he is like a bulldozer,” said Garrett), he acts as if he has been around as long as Arroyo. He is cool, he is calm, he is non-plussed.
“I just look at it like I belong here,” he said. “I expand my brain to a lot more than just baseball. If keeping my composure is all I have to do, just go out there and play baseball — hey, there are a lot bigger problem in the world than if I give up a hit or a run. I just look at it like I’m blessed. I take everything with a grain of salt, good or bad, and be the same way every time.”
Now there is a young man with his feet firmly planted and his head on as straight as an Arizona highway through the desert.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“It took us a long time to put all the pieces together, but we have good pieces.” — Reds manager Bryan Price.
“You know what’s better than hits? Mo’ hits.” — Joey Votto, in search of many more hits.
“They told me I was too little to play Little League.” — Infielder Scooter Gennett.