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October 8, 2006

Arroyo to Schilling:A picture says a thousand words

BOSTON - Bronson Arroyo may be gone, but he made sure he wasn't forgotten.

The former Red Sox pitcher, who contributed to Boston's agonizing season by finishing 2006 as the major league leader for most innings pitched (2402/3) with his new team in Cincinnati, wanted to make sure his achievements hadn't gone unnoticed in the Sox clubhouse.

So in the midst of the last week of the season, Arroyo sent an overnight package to his former teammate Curt Schilling. In the envelope was a reminder that his former teammate might have underestimated what the guitar-playing, right-handed hurler could offer a big league pitching staff.

"(Schilling) said a couple of years ago I would never pitch 230 innings with this body," Arroyo said. "So I sent him a note with a picture of me standing with nothing on but a (sock)."

In the accompanying message, Arroyo joked to Schilling something to the effect that to throw 230 innings it wasn't how big a body you had, but rather how much intestinal fortitude one had.

The delivery was - as Arroyo is quick to point out - sent in good-natured fun to one of the many Red Sox players he continues to respect and admire. But in the bigger picture (besides that of Arroyo in his birthday suit), he wanted to send the message of what kind of player he developed into this season.

Arroyo, who the Red Sox traded just before the start of the beginning of the '06 season for outfielder Wily Mo Pena, has become something many in Boston never thought he could be - a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.

"(Red Sox general manager) Theo (Epstein) called me before the All-Star game to congratulate me (on making the National League team). He was joking around about how he couldn't go anywhere in the city without somebody yelling at him about trading me," said Arroyo, while driving from Cincinnati to his offseason home in Florida.

"Over time, you earn your respect. I've always been a guy who has been borderline, 'Is he a starter or a bullpen guy?' But now I think I've shown I can be a No. 3 on any team in baseball. So now I've gotten over that hump. Now I have to prove that I can be a guy who can do it two, three, five or 10 years in a row."

The ironic part of Arroyo's journey this season is that despite his initial hesitancy about leaving Boston, especially after signing a three-year, $11.25 million deal in February, it seems to have all worked out for the best for the 29-year-old.

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