FORT MYERS, Fla. – Jake Arrieta was confident when he signed with the Phillies that he would be ready for the start of the season and the pitcher's progress continues to trend in that direction.
Arrieta will make his Grapefruit League debut Thursday against the Tigers as long as everything goes well Tuesday in his throwing session. The pitcher said he would throw 60 to 70 pitches in Thursday's game at Spectrum Field. He threw 32 pitches Saturday in two innings of a simulated game. Thursday's start is eight days away from the regular season's second game, which would be Arrieta's turn in the rotation.
"Obviously, I haven't been in a game yet, but I'm a quick learner and I like my chances at getting ready," Arrieta said at his introductory news conference.
Mark Leiter Jr. returned to Philadelphia on Monday to undergo testing after feeling discomfort in his right forearm. The righthander appeared to have a lock on one of the eight relief roles.
Leiter had allowed two earned runs this spring in his first 9 1/3 innings before he allowed four runs Friday in the start he left with tightness in his forearm. His spot as a long reliever could be filled by Drew Hutchinson, who started Monday's 6-5 loss to Boston, or Jake Thompson, who appears to be transitioning from a starter to a reliever.
Hutchinson, in camp on a minor-league deal, allowed one run Monday on three hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked one. Thompson is already on the 40-man roster and has allowed just two earned runs this spring in 10 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts and three walks.
"Thompson has shown us the ability to have a swing-and-miss slider and get it out of the zone and get swings and misses, which is a quality that we think plays well in a major-league bullpen," manager Gabe Kapler said.
Tommy Joseph's Phillies career ended Monday, when he was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers.
The Phillies designated Joseph for assignment last week to clear a space on their 40-man roster for Jake Arrieta. He went to spring training without a role on the team after Rhys Hoskins emerged last season and the Phillies signed Carlos Santana this winter to play first base. Joseph's roster spot always seemed to be in jeopardy.
Joseph could find a place in the American League as a designated hitter. He hit 43 homers over the last two seasons with a .757 OPS. Joseph played some left field and third base this spring but will likely stay at first base.