PHILADELPHIA -- Search "Jacob Arrieta bullpen heckler" on YouTube, and you can watch Arrieta throwing pitches in the visitors' bullpen a couple years ago at Citizens Bank Park.Before Arrieta threw one pitch that evening, a heckler yelled, "Ball!" Arrieta, of course, threw a strike on the black. After the fan
PHILADELPHIA -- Search "Jacob Arrieta bullpen heckler" on YouTube, and you can watch Arrieta throwing pitches in the visitors' bullpen a couple years ago at Citizens Bank Park.
Before Arrieta threw one pitch that evening, a heckler yelled, "Ball!" Arrieta, of course, threw a strike on the black. After the fan made another comment, Arrieta looked behind him and found the culprit, then held up the ball and said, "You want to throw one? Want to throw one?"
The big, bad heckler shut up after that.
"I'll chirp back, but it's all in good fun," Arrieta said Thursday, referring to the video.
Arrieta makes his highly anticipated Phillies debut Sunday afternoon against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. He signed a three-year, $75 million contract March 12 to solidify a rotation that includes Aaron Nola and plenty of unproven talent. If Arrieta replicates his second half last season with the Cubs, when he posted a 2.28 ERA in 12 starts, the Phillies will be tough to beat when Nola and Arrieta are on the mound.
Arrieta is looking forward to getting started.
"It's going to be very special," Arrieta said. "I've played here quite a bit. I've pitched really well here. I'm very comfortable with the surroundings. I love the bullpens. The comfort level already is very high. So to be able to put the home pinstripes on and pitch in front of these fans, especially our Opening Weekend here, it's going to be really special. There's going to be a lot of that nervous, anxious energy you get at the start of really any season, regardless of what uniform you're wearing."
Arrieta, 32, is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two career starts in Philadelphia. He is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins. It is not a coincidence that Arrieta's debut comes in the afternoon, either. He has a 3.28 ERA in his career during day games. He has a 3.77 ERA in his career at night.
It goes without saying, but the Phillies really could use a good outing from Arrieta. The Phillies have had a rough start to their season, but if Arrieta delivers as expected, it could send a jolt through the clubhouse, similar to the one it experienced when Arrieta signed with the team last month.
"I look forward to moving the needle forward with this group of players," Arrieta said then. "A message I want to send -- to not only the players, but 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. 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's 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."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.