Jake Arrieta makes a promise to Philadelphia

Jake Arrieta makes a promise to Philadelphia

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jake Arrieta knows something about rebuilding efforts. He joined the Chicago Cubs during a 96-loss season in 2013. Two years later, he won the National League Cy Young Award and helped the Cubs win 97 games. A year later, the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years.

Arrieta had 75 million reasons to come to Philadelphia.

Make it 75 million plus one.

"I knew this was an organization that was hungry to win and would do the necessary things to take that step," he said. "I feel like we're not far away. I think rebuild is a loose term. A rebuild doesn't mean you can't win now. 

"I intend to come in here and win right away. Even though we are technically in a rebuild, I think all the players would agree with me that we intend to win, rebuild or not."

The Phillies made a late push over the weekend to sign Arrieta. He is guaranteed $75 million over three years and there is a team option to extend the deal to five years. The Padres, Brewers and Nationals were all in the running for him, according to sources.

Arrieta was introduced in a news conference at the Phillies' spring training site Tuesday morning. A number of players attended the news conference — in uniform. An hour later, Arrieta joined them on the field in uniform.

During the news conference, Arrieta spoke to his new teammates — and the fans.

"A message I want to send to not only the players but to Philadelphia in general and the entire Phillies nation is that what we're going to do here is we're going to promise a fight," the pitcher said. "There is no guarantee you're going to feel good or you're going to have your best stuff or you're going to get a great night sleep the night before. But what we can promise is that we're going to have conviction, we're going to fight and we're going to win at the end of the day.

"I couldn't be happier to be a Phillie. I look forward to getting on the field with my teammates and winning some games."

Though his free agency lingered into March, Arrieta is well conditioned. He had gotten up to 65 pitches in bullpen workouts back home in Texas. He believes he can be ready to pitch during the first week of the regular season. The Phillies have not yet come up with a plan. Regardless, Arrieta projects to reach the 30 starts that he has averaged the last four years.

"My body is in tremendous shape," the 32-year-old right-hander said. "Obviously, I haven't been in a game yet but I'm a quick learner and I like my chances at getting ready."

Phillies set to unveil new ace Jake Arrieta in spring training

Phillies set to unveil new ace Jake Arrieta in spring training

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Thursday starts the one-week countdown to opening day.

Oh, yeah, and Jake Arrieta will also make his Grapefruit League debut.

It figures to be the highlight of the spring.

Arrieta signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies last week. He has completed a progression from bullpen work — he actually had gotten well into that on his own before signing — to facing hitters in a controlled situation.

Now, it’s time to face some competition — the Detroit Tigers. The game will be televised on NBCSP+ at 1 p.m.

The Phillies have yet to decide when Arrieta will make his regular-season debut. The pitcher believes he will be ready during the first week of the season. The team will exercise caution. Arrieta’s performance Thursday — and possibly more important, his recovery — will go a long way into determining when the Phils turn him loose.

“I’m looking for him to be healthy, first and foremost,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I would love to see him come out just like he has in his live batting practice sessions and in his bullpens, which is strong, ball looking like a lead fastball, featuring that great cutter and a lot of that great deception.

"We’re looking for him to be Jake Arrieta. Most importantly, most critically and most consequentially, I’m looking for him to be healthy and strong.”

Kapler said the Phils would be flexible on Arrieta’s pitch count. Fifty or so seems like a good guess.

Arrieta has been around for a week now. His teammates are thrilled to have him.

“Obviously, with the Arrieta signing, we got a lot better not only on the field but in the clubhouse,” Rhys Hoskins said (more on him here). “What he’s going to be able to do not only for the pitchers but for some of us young position guys — I mean he’s recently won a World Series, he’s a Cy Young guy, he knows how to compete at the highest level. We have a good group. It’s meshing pretty quickly. I’m excited to see how it goes once we start.”

Rhys Hoskins doing damage as opening day comes into sight

USA Today Images

Rhys Hoskins doing damage as opening day comes into sight


DUNEDIN, Fla. — The season opener is eight days away and Rhys Hoskins says his swing “is getting there.” 

Getting there? Really?

It looks like it already arrived with the morning mail.

Hoskins continued his recent run of excellent at-bats in Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. He belted a two-run homer, a solo homer and also worked a walk. Over his last five games, he is 6 for 16 with five walks. For the spring, he is hitting .279 (12 for 43) with four doubles, four homers, eight RBIs, 11 runs scored and an OPS of 1.066.

“What does he have, 10 strikeouts and 10 walks on the spring?” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler asked.

Indeed, those are the numbers.

“That is fantastic,” Kapler said. “Obviously, he’s swinging the bat beautifully and really controlling the at-bats.”

It all starts with pitch recognition.

“I’ve been pretty happy with that throughout camp,” Hoskins said. “I don’t feel like I’ve chased too many, which is always good. I’ve seen a bunch of breaking balls and been able to recognize them early.”

The outstanding selectivity that Hoskins has allows him to work pitchers into fastball counts. He did that in the first inning when he got a 3-1 fastball from Marcus Stroman and drove it over the left-field wall. The ball left the bat at 108 miles per hour.

Obviously, Hoskins was pleased that the ball left the yard. He was more pleased with the swing. He believes pitchers will try to bust him in this season and he’s ready for it.

“I was really, really happy with the first at-bat,” he said. “I had been struggling with the ball in. I was able to keep my hands inside of it and the ball went.”

His second homer came on a 1-1 fastball from Luis Santos. The wind was blowing out at Dunedin Stadium. Hoskins saw a pitch up and took a rip.

“On a day like today, if you see the ball up you’re going to have a pretty good chance,” he said.

Hoskins batted second in the lineup, ahead of Maikel Franco and Carlos Santana. Kapler has juggled lineups all spring and has strongly implied that he will do that, based on matchups, during the regular season.

“I don’t care where I hit,” Hoskins said. “With the guys we have and the way they’re going to construct the lineup, if I hit second, fourth, sixth, I think I’m going to be able to hit with men on base.

“Throughout my career I’ve been a run producer, so that’s the main thing for me. If I can create some runs, whether it’s scoring runs or driving in runs, I’ll be happy.”

The Phils and Jays played to a 7-7 tie. The Phillies’ bullpen gave up five runs in the last two innings to let a 7-2 lead get away. The Phils used 10 pitchers, including two day-trippers from minor-league camp. Starter Nick Pivetta pitched two perfect innings. The team purposely scaled him back to keep him in line with a 25-inning spring target. Scott Kingery and Aaron Altherr also hit home runs.