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03/27/08 4:19 PM ET

Arroyo impressive in final tuneup

Right-hander looking forward to working in healthy rotation

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Bronson Arroyo rarely flies under the radar, but the Reds pitcher has very quietly had a strong spring.

Arroyo couldn't have had a much better final tuneup than he did Thursday vs. the Twins. Frequently changing speeds with his fastball and mixing in his offspeed stuff, he allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts and no walks.

Of the 89 pitches Arroyo threw, 65 were for strikes.

"Oh man, he really had it going," manager Dusty Baker said. "He had all his pitches working. That's midseason form right there. The breaking ball was working on command. He had good location with his fastball."

This spring, Arroyo is 2-0 with 1.89 ERA in four starts. In his 19 innings, the right-hander has allowed 12 hits and two walks while striking out 12.

"It's the best I've ever felt in spring by far," Arroyo said. "My body is where it needs to be. My stuff is there and I feel strong. That's the main thing for me, to have a little zip on the fastball and keep guys honest. They know I'll throw a decent amount of breaking balls."

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If Arroyo is good in the No. 2 spot behind Aaron Harang, the Reds could have a potent rotation. Last season, Arroyo was 9-15 with a 4.23 ERA in 34 starts. Although he had 22 quality starts and 210 2/3 innings pitched, he also endured a fatigued arm at times and some streaky stretches. In one nine-start run last May and June, Arroyo was 0-7 with a 7.28 ERA.

While Arroyo has gone about his business, Johnny Cueto, Josh Fogg and Edinson Volquez have pitched well and have likely claimed the last three spots in the rotation. Their performances have Arroyo optimistic about this season's starting five.

"The last two years, it's been about trying to get guys healthy. You're not sure who's going to be in the rotation," Arroyo said. "It's going to be fun to not feel like me and Aaron have to carry most of the load. I'm really looking forward to seeing those guys while sitting on the bench and saying 'Wow, look at what these guys are doing.' You want a little competition. Hopefully guys are going out and shoving it every time, and you feel like, 'I better do my part to keep up the pace.'"

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.