Bronson Arroyo had been one of baseball's most gutsy pitchers, finding a way to take the mound no matter what was ailing him.
Even after suffering a severe elbow injury in May, the Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander kept taking the ball, making six starts while fighting through the pain.
When an MRI revealed a ligament in his elbow had torn away from the bone, Arroyo still trying to keep pitching before finally giving in.
A player who had never been on the disabled list prior to this season, Arroyo will have Tommy John surgery within the next week or so, becoming the third Diamondbacks pitcher to undergo the ligament-replacement procedure this year.
"I wanted to see if I could pitch on it without the ligament, because a few guys have done it," Arroyo said on Monday. "Most of the guys were bullpen guys, so it was going to be tough to do. I fired it up the last three days, and I could throw 120 feet and I could probably go out there and pitch, but it just won't come back fast enough. So I'd have to pitch every 10 days and take nine days to get it healthy. It just wasn't going to work."
Signed by Arizona during the offseason, Arroyo had been one of baseball's most durable pitchers, making 369 consecutive starts during 15 seasons with four teams.
The 37-year-old got the season off to a slow start after suffering a back injury in spring training, but had seemingly rounded into form over the last month, pitching well despite the elbow injury. He was 7-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 starts.
Arroyo said he believes the ligament tear came during a start against Washington in May, when he outpitched Stephen Strasburg in a complete-game victory. He continued to pitch after that and was still effective, using medication to fight the pain and deception to fight off hitters. Despite pitching with a torn ligament, Arroyo went 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA over his final three starts before going on the disabled list on June 16.
Even after an MRI revealed the tear, he tried to fight through it before succumbing to surgery.
"We had a discussion with him before his last start and he was pretty adamant about continuing to pitch, he thought he could get through it but that last game really hurt him," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "That's when we shut him down and got the MRI and we took this course. It seems that surgery is the only way to go now."
Arroyo joins Patrick Corbin and reliever David Hernandez on Arizona's list of pitchers to have Tommy John surgery. Left-hander Daniel Hudson has had the surgery twice, in 2012 and 2013.
All three are working their way back to the big leagues and Arroyo will do the same despite nearing the end of his career.
"If this was the last year that I was going to play, I would just go gut it out and pitch and it would hurt and I'd try to find a way to win at 82 miles per hour, but I don't think it is," Arroyo said. I think my body's a lot younger than my age is. I think I'm probably closer to 32-33 as far as the way I feel in comparison to most guys my age. So I don't think it's going to be a problem coming back."