The smile says is all — Gabe Kapler's thrilled with Jake Arrieta news

The smile says is all — Gabe Kapler's thrilled with Jake Arrieta news


SARASOTA, Fla. — Gabe Kapler approached Carlos Santana during batting practice. Santana knew Kapler was the bearer of good news.

“It felt like he was very happy,” Santana said. “He was smiling.”

You’d be smiling, too, if you were a first-year manager of an improving ballclub and your team just landed a former Cy Young winner to lead the starting rotation.
The Phillies’ offseason is now complete. General manager Matt Klentak signed Santana to bolster the offense and Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter to upgrade the bullpen. On Sunday, the club agreed to a three-year deal with former National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta. The deal is contingent on a physical.

Santana was thrilled to hear the news before the Phillies-Orioles Grapefruit League game.

“I feel great, I feel happy for him, happy for me and my team,” Santana said. “I think it's great. He'll help a lot so I'm happy that we have a very good player. We got better with him signing here. Everybody is surprised here, but we’re happy.”

Arrieta won the NL Cy Young in 2015 when he went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. A year later, he helped the Cubs beat Santana’s Cleveland Indians in the World Series. Santana went hitless in six at-bats and struck out twice against Arrieta in the Series.

At 32, Arrieta will be the elder statesman of the Phillies rotation. He will be counted on to guide some of the young pitchers such as Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta.

“A guy like that, he’s really good for an up and coming team like ours with a lot of young pitchers,” Pivetta said after pitching 4 2/3 innings against the Orioles Sunday night. “I think he can have a lot of impact on our young pitchers, whatever the rotation is going to be. I think a guy like that is going to be good. I think it’s a smart move.”

It was not immediately clear when Arrieta would arrive in Clearwater or where he is in his preparation for the regular season, which begins in less than three weeks. He is a conditioning freak who has been working out and throwing. Kapler has already anointed Nola as his opening day starter. It’s unlikely Kapler would alter that 18 days before the opener.

But Kapler is no doubt enthused about having Arrieta.

“If Jake Arrieta is a Phillie, of course, I’m going to be exceptionally excited," he said. "I love everything about the guy. The crossfire delivery creates all kinds of deception. We all know about the success he had in Chicago. It would be awesome if Jake ends up a Phillie.

“Speaking hypothetically, he’s a tremendous leader and obviously the track record of success – I don’t want to curb any enthusiasm here, he would be an incredible boost to our rotation here and a great leader in the clubhouse.”

Back at the start of spring training, Kapler said he thought the Phillies were putting together a team that could shock people. With Arrieta, expectations will be heightened.

“I think it would make us a better team and I thought we were a really good team before,” Kapler said. “I think it will create a tremendous amount of excitement in the clubhouse, I think it would make us better between the lines, and I think the city of Philadelphia would be exceptionally excited, as well.”

Brushbacks, hit batsmen, ejections in Phils' spring training game

NBC Sports Philadelphia

Brushbacks, hit batsmen, ejections in Phils' spring training game


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies bring extra pitchers over from the minor-league complex for bullpen depth every game in spring training. For the pitchers, it’s a nice little recognition of a job well done. They often don’t get in the game, but they get to put on a big-league uniform and put a day’s worth of big-league meal money in their pocket.
Parker Frazier got even more than that on Thursday. He not only got in the game. He got ejected.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a spring training game,” Frazier said with a laugh afterward. “I’ll take the first for something.”

Home plate umpire Tom Hallion gave Frazier the boot for hitting Detroit’s Derek Hill with a pitch in the eighth inning of a 6-2 loss. Frazier hit Hill with an off-speed pitch, so it clearly was not intentional. But Hallion had already issued warnings to both benches after Zach Eflin had hit Jose Iglesias and Detroit’s Matthew Boyd came in close twice against Odubel Herrera. In addition to Frazier, Hallion also ejected Phillies reliever Pedro Beato for hitting a batter in the ninth. Manager Gabe Kapler and bench coach Rob Thomson were ejected with Frazier and Beato, respectively.

It made for a crazy scene, especially in a spring training game.

Herrera believed that Boyd intentionally threw at him as retaliation for Iglesias getting hit. Boyd at first threw over Herrera’s head as Herrera tried to call timeout. He then came inside on Herrera. Herrera sidestepped the pitch and took first with a walk.

“He can’t hit me,” a defiant Herrera said afterward. “I’m too quick.”

Frazier definitely wasn’t trying to hit Hill, not with a slider.

“It was a slider that didn’t slide,” he joked.

Frazier is the 29-year-old son of former big-league pitcher George Frazier. He’s a career minor leaguer who has been in pro ball since 2007 and pitched in the Rockies, Reds, White Sox, A’s and Diamondbacks organizations. He pitched the last three seasons in independent ball and is in Phillies camp for the first time.

Frazier’s fiancee and future in-laws were in from Oklahoma for the game. They expected to see him pitch at the minor-league complex, but instead got to see him experience an eventful day in big-league camp.

After being ejected, Frazier returned to the clubhouse. A text from his fiancee awaited him.

“They wanted to know what happened,” he said. “I told them accidental hit pitch.”

Kapler wouldn't discuss what he said to Hallion after Frazier's ejection. He said he would respect the umpire's decision because those are the rules.

But Kapler made it clear that he didn’t believe his pitchers were trying to hit anyone.

“We have a minor leaguer in the game and he’s just trying to make a good impression,” Kapler said. “He threw a slider that backed up and hit somebody. Beato is also trying to make a club and make a good impression. There’s no reason to not throw strikes. Balls will get away. It’s part of the game.”

Arrieta comes out strong, but Kapler remains vague on timetable

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Arrieta comes out strong, but Kapler remains vague on timetable

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Ever since Jake Arrieta flew into town on Air Middleton and raised expectations for 2018, Phillies officials have said they would take a methodical approach with getting him ready for the regular season.

The Phils followed that plan in holding Arrieta to two innings and 31 pitches in the right-hander’s hotly anticipated spring debut against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

“We had a very specific pitch count in mind and we feel like we executed the innings and the pitch count to a T,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We did not want to push the envelope at all. There’s no reason to. We’re focused on the long view.”

Arrieta struck out the first two batters of the game then allowed a solo home run to two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, a double, a single and another run over the balance of his outing. He had hoped to go three innings, but understands the team’s plan.

“I'm on board with what these guys intend to do,” said the 32-year-old pitcher, who signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phils last week. “I know they have my health and the team's success over the long haul in mind. That's the most important thing moving forward.”

Kapler liked what he saw from Arrieta.

“It was a real positive outing,” he said. “We wanted to see health and strength. We saw both of those things and he threw strikes.”

Twenty-two of Arrieta’s 31 pitches were strikes.

Arrieta’s arm strength was impressive. He touched 95 mph on the stadium radar gun. He also threw several fastballs that registered 94. His fastball velocity had been a concern as it dropped from 94.9 mph in his Cy Young season of 2015 to 92.6 mph last season, according to PITCHf/x data.

“My timing and my delivery were nice,” Arrieta said. “The ball was coming out of my hand good. Even though I'm not particularly worried about velocity, the velocity was nice today. Sinking fastball was really good. I threw some good curveballs. The cutter wasn't necessarily great, along with the changeup. But those will come with repetition.”

Arrieta said he had “a ton of nervous energy” before the start.

“Now that it's over, I take a deep breath and I remember what it feels like to be in a game situation,” he said. “Umpires, crowd. It felt great. I'm healthy. The ball is coming out good. To get the first one out of the way — even though it is a little bit later — it's a good sign.”

Kapler continued to play things close to the vest with Arrieta’s timetable. What is clear, however, is that Arrieta will get one more start in Florida before camp breaks on Tuesday. He could build to around 50 pitches in that one and be ready to start in New York on April 2, 3 or 4. If the Phils decide that Arrieta needs two more outings to prepare for the regular season, he could debut on April 7 at home against Miami. Either way, he lines up to make 30-plus starts.