Arrieta tosses first Phillies bullpen session

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Newly-signed Phillies ace Jake Arrieta threw his first bullpen session in a Philadelphia uniform Wednesday, and told reporters that he hopes to make his debut in a Minor League game on Saturday.

Arrieta told media members in Clearwater, Fla., that he expects to throw around 50 pitches in Saturday’s start. The Phillies have made clear that Aaron Nola is still their Opening Day starter, but the team is understandably eager to see Arrieta in game conditions after signing him to a three-year, $75 million contract.


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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Newly-signed Phillies ace Jake Arrieta threw his first bullpen session in a Philadelphia uniform Wednesday, and told reporters that he hopes to make his debut in a Minor League game on Saturday.

Arrieta told media members in Clearwater, Fla., that he expects to throw around 50 pitches in Saturday’s start. The Phillies have made clear that Aaron Nola is still their Opening Day starter, but the team is understandably eager to see Arrieta in game conditions after signing him to a three-year, $75 million contract.


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“The sooner we’re able to get him out there, the better chance we have of Jake being ready to start the [regular] season,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. “At the same time, this is a significant investment for a long stretch of time. We want to make sure we do the right things to keep him healthy. We don’t want to rush into this and put him in a tough spot.”

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Because of days off early in the season, the Phillies won’t need a No. 5 starter until April 11.

“That gives us some flexibility to work Jake in whenever he’s ready, without needing to rush things,” Klentak said. “There’s a possibility he could pitch on the first turn through the rotation. There’s a possibility he could have some sort of a piggyback start. There’s a possibility he could [not pitch] on the first time through the rotation and slot back in on the second time.

“We don’t have enough information yet, but our goals are aligned with Jake’s, which is to get him out there as soon as we can and start winning ballgames.”

Video: TB@PHI: Klentak discusses Phillies adding Arrieta

When asked about Arrieta’s decreased fastball velocity in 2017, Klentak said the team’s research and development group “spent more time on that subject than anything else this entire offseason.”

“There are just so many factors that go into signing a player,” Klentak said. “Obviously, fastball velocity and the quality of a pitcher’s stuff are among them. But another component is how competitive they are, and we’ve all seen how tenacious Jake is on the mound. There’s also the ability to sequence pitches and be smart on the mound.

“This is not the first time in baseball history that a pitcher has lost some velocity as he’s aged. It’s happened to a lot of pitchers who have remained successful. It comes down to how smart they are on the mound and their ability to outthink hitters, as much as out-stuff them. He’s in as good of shape as any player in baseball.” 

Video: Klentak, Kapler praise Arrieta’s winning personality

“Nobody works harder than him,” Klentak added. “Nobody competes more than him. So it’s a combination of factors that made us comfortable signing him to this contract.”

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com.

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