Phillies

Phillies

SAN DIEGO — The last time Odubel Herrera was in San Diego, he was part of the National League All-Star team.
 
Less than a month later, Herrera is back in this lovely Pacific Coast town with much less accompanying fanfare.
 
The Phillies’ lone All-Star was not in the starting lineup for the series opener against the Padres on Friday night. It was the third time in four games that manager Pete Mackanin had held Herrera out of the lineup. Each time, the opposing team had a lefty on the mound, but there is more to it than that.
 
“The fact that [we’re facing] a lefty and because he doesn’t look like the same guy right now,” Mackanin said before batting practice. “I’m giving him a little bit of a reprieve here just to back off a little bit and maybe he’ll come in and ask me how come he’s not playing, or maybe he’ll take advantage of the time off to clear his head and get back to where he was before. He’s a little less disciplined than he was earlier. He’s swinging at too many bad pitches.”
 
Clearly, Mackanin is sending a message. Aaron Altherr got the start in center field for the Phillies against San Diego lefty Christian Friedrich.
 
Herrera was the Phillies’ best player in the first half of the season, topping out at .309 with a .397 on-base percentage in late June.
 
But since July 1, he’s hitting just .235 with a .290 on-base percentage over a 30-game span. He has just nine walks over that span and two were intentional. Herrera made great strides with his plate discipline early in the season. He walked 10 times in his first 11 games. Mackanin wants to see that return. He hinted that Herrera, 24, needed to improve his focus.
 
“It’s such a long season and a long grind,” Mackanin said. “Like we’ve said before, you’ve got to be special to be up and post up for every game and some guys can do that and others need a little time. I don’t feel players get physically tired at the end of the season; I think they get mentally tired.”
 
Herrera is hitting .284 with a .783 OPS for the season. He is hitting .301 with a .848 OPS against righties and .236 with a .599 OPS against lefties. Before sitting out the last three times the Phillies faced a lefty, he had started 17 of the previous 21 games against lefties.
 
The Phillies face right-handers Paul Clemens and Jarred Cosart the next two days in San Diego, so Herrera should be back in the starting lineup. Both pitchers have some Phillies roots. Clemens pitched for the club in Triple A last year and Cosart was once a highly regarded prospect who was part of the package that went to Houston for Hunter Pence in 2011. Cosart has since been traded two other times.