Arroyo homers in Reds debut

By Joe Kay The Associated Press

CINCINNATI – Ken Griffey Jr.’s 537th career homer got upstaged by Bronson Arroyo’s first.

Arroyo got the loudest and longest ovations yesterday – and a respectful bow from Griffey – in a successful Cincinnati debut. He pitched into the seventh inning and hit his first career homer in his first at-bat, leading the Reds to an 8-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

“I’ll take that 50 times over,” Arroyo said.

His do-it-all debut overshadowed a big moment for Griffey, who moved ahead of two Yankees with his first homer of the season.

Griffey’s solo shot was his 537th, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle for 12th on the career list. It also provided his 1,538th RBI, moving him ahead of Joe DiMaggio for 31st on that list, which doesn’t include anything before 1920, when RBIs became a statistic.

“Those guys are legends,” Griffey said. “You can’t say enough for those guys and what they’ve done for baseball. Both of those guys are arguably in the top 10 players in the history of the game.”

Although Griffey’s homer was the more historic, Arroyo’s was the more memorable. It changed the mood and the music at Great American Ball Park two days after the Cubs opened the season with a 16-7 win.

The Reds got Arroyo from Boston in a trade for popular outfielder Wily Mo Pena on March 20, a move that stunned and unnerved the lanky right-hander. Fans looking for him to prop up the NL’s worst rotation of 2005 gave Arroyo a loud ovation on opening day.

“I definitely noticed it,” Arroyo said. “It just means that people are expecting big things from me. I hope I can come here and satisfy that need for us to have some quality pitching.”

His hitting made the first impression.

Arroyo came to bat in the third inning and homered off left-hander Glendon Rusch (0-1), who got ahead 0-2 in the count before throwing a down-the-middle fastball. Arroyo, a .073 career hitter, timed it perfectly.

Everyone knew the ball was gone long before it landed in the left-field seats, 403 feet away. Arroyo dropped his head and rounded the bases briskly, his shoulder-length hair flapping behind his helmet.

“I was in another world after hitting it out,” said Arroyo, who hadn’t hit one since high school.”