LAKELAND, Fla. -- The first Sunday afternoon game this season at Citizens Bank Park just became a hotter ticket.Phillies manager Gabe Kapler announced Saturday that Jacob Arrieta will make his Phillies debut on April 8 against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. It will be the highly anticipated debut of
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The first Sunday afternoon game this season at Citizens Bank Park just became a hotter ticket.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler announced Saturday that Jacob Arrieta will make his Phillies debut on April 8 against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. It will be the highly anticipated debut of the former National League Cy Young Award winner, who signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies on March 12.
"We plan on getting 30-plus starts out of Jake," Kapler said following a 4-1 victory over the Tigers in a Grapefruit League game at Joker Marchant Stadium. "Really excited about this. He's on board and excited. So is [pitching coach Rick Kranitz], myself, [general manager Matt Klentak]. We're all feeling really good about the plan."
• Hutchison puts himself in position to make club
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Arrieta threw 31 pitches in his first Spring Training start Thursday. He will pitch the Grapefruit League finale Tuesday against the Pirates at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. He will pitch April 2 against Minor League players in Clearwater.
Then it's the Marlins.
"He's such a competitive dude that he wants to get out there immediately," Kapler said. "But he also has such a strong understanding of the long view and what will keep him healthy and strong over the whole season and through the next three, four years, that he understood the best thing for his body was to build up a little bit more and get a nice slow easy ramp, and then he can come out firing for us on the eighth against the Marlins.
"He's great on day games. He loves pitching during the day."
Arrieta has a 3.28 ERA in his career during day games. He has a 3.77 ERA at night. He also is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four career starts against Miami.
Valentin, Quinn push the issue
Jesmuel Valentin and Roman Quinn are making things tough for the Phillies' front office and coaching staff with Opening Day less than a week away. Both are in the mix for two, possibly three, available bench jobs. Andrew Knapp is expected to be the No. 2 catcher. Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams are considered the No. 4 outfielder.
The Phillies could add a fifth bench player, if they carry a four-man rotation until Arrieta joins the team.
Pedro Florimon is the other player in the mix for a bench job.
Valentin went 2-for-3 with one double and one walk Saturday. He also played first base for the first time this spring. Valentin has played everywhere in the field except pitcher and catcher -- although he has practiced this spring behind the plate. He would be the team's emergency catcher.
Quinn went 2-for-4 with one RBI and three stolen bases. Entering Saturday, only Texas' Delino DeShields (14) and Houston's Derek Fisher (11) have more stolen bases this spring.
"It's a great problem for us," Kapler said. "We have multiple options that we would be excited about breaking camp with. I don't know that there's many clubs that can say that right now. We would be thrilled with any of those guys in bench roles, and we would be thrilled with a lot of those guys in long reliever, fifth starter, couple innings out of the 'pen roles. We're in a good spot."
Kapler said he expects to break camp with the 25-man roster on Tuesday.
Video: TB@PHI: Quinn swipes second base in the 3rd inning
K-Rod is out
The Phillies granted right-hander Francisco Rodriguez, 36, his unconditional release. He posted a 5.40 ERA in eight appearances. He allowed 11 hits, five runs and eight walks in just 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five.
Rodriguez, who entered camp as a non-roster invitee, had an opt-out clause in his contract, which he could have exercised Saturday.
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta will start Sunday's 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Orioles at Spectrum Field. The game can be seen on MLB.TV. Pivetta pitched two scoreless innings against the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
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.