CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Is it Opening Day yet?Phillies left fielder Rhys Hoskins went 2-for-4 with two home runs, three RBIs and one walk in Wednesday's 7-7 tie with the Blue Jays in a Grapefruit League game at Dunedin Stadium. Hoskins is hitting .375 (6-for-16) with two doubles, two home runs,
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Is it Opening Day yet?
Phillies left fielder Rhys Hoskins went 2-for-4 with two home runs, three RBIs and one walk in Wednesday's 7-7 tie with the Blue Jays in a Grapefruit League game at Dunedin Stadium. Hoskins is hitting .375 (6-for-16) with two doubles, two home runs, five walks and two strikeouts in his last five games.
"It's getting there," Hoskins said, referring to his swing. "There's obviously still some things that I'm trying to feel. It's really just about trusting yourself at the plate to do the things you know you can do and finding that feel. It's getting better day by day. Obviously, today was a good day. I was really, really happy with the first at-bat. I had been struggling with the ball in. I was able to keep my hands inside of it and the ball went."
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler mentioned the fact that Hoskins has 10 walks and 10 strikeouts this spring -- a good sign that the power hitter has had a good approach at the plate.
"That is fantastic," Kapler said. "Obviously he's swinging the bat beautifully, but [he's] really controlling the at-bats. One of the things that we know is more predictive than maybe how many homers he's hitting or how may hits he's getting is his ability to control the strike zone, and he's doing that effectively. No doubt."
The Phillies play six more Grapefruit League games before they fly to Atlanta to open the 2018 against the Braves on March 29 at SunTrust Park.
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"I am ready to get out of here," Hoskins said. "I'm just ready for some good competition. But I'm not ready for the snow."
Aaron Altherr hit his third homer of the spring, a two-run shot to left field in the seventh, on Wednesday, while Scott Kingery hit his fourth homer, a two-run shot to center in the eighth.
Pivetta tunes up
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (4.70 ERA in 15 1/3 innings this spring) pitched two scoreless innings against the Blue Jays. He struck out one. The Phillies scaled back his workload Wednesday in preparation for the regular season. He likely will pitch three or four innings in his final spring start next week.
"From the beginning of Spring Training -- what they've asked me to do and what I've put in the game -- I feel really comfortable," Pivetta said.
The Phillies released left-hander Fernando Abad, whom the team brought to camp as a non-roster invitee.
Abad could have opted out of his contract if the Phillies had not added him to the roster by Thursday. He allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings in three appearances. He missed much of the spring with a hamstring injury.
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If the Phillies plan to carry two left-handers in the bullpen, it leaves Hoby Milner and Zac Curtis competing for that spot. Milner (5.40 ERA, 10 appearances) has allowed six hits, four runs and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. He has struck out seven. Curtis (1.69 ERA, eight appearances) has allowed seven hits, one run and two walks in 5 1/3 innings with six strikeouts.
Left-hander Adam Morgan is a lock to make the team.
Roster decision deadlines
Utility player Ryan Flaherty has been in the mix for a bench job, but a source told MLB.com that he will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract by Thursday's deadline. It is likely the Phillies will grant it, although they have 48 hours following the request to place him to the roster. Right-hander Andrew Hutchison's opt-out date is Friday. He has a chance to be the No. 5 starter or pitch out of the bullpen. Right-hander Francisco Rodriguez can opt out on Saturday. He is a long shot for the bullpen.
Flaherty and utility player Adam Rosales must be paid a $100,000 retention bonus if they are not added to the Opening Day roster by Saturday. Rosales has no out clause in his contract.
The Phillies traded infielder Eliezer Alvarez to the Rangers for cash considerations. He was designated for assignment late last week to make room on the 40-man roster for utility player Pedro Florimon.
Phillies ace Jacob Arrieta makes his debut Thursday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET in a Grapefruit League game against the Tigers at Spectrum Field. Watch the game on MLB.TV. Arrieta signed a three-year, $75 million contract on March 12. He remains hopeful he will be ready to pitch the first week of the season, but that is not a certainty.
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.