ATLANTA — When Odubel Herrera failed to slide into second base and contributed to the death of a potential rally Monday night, it revealed something valuable for the Phillies.
They have a leader.
Moments after committing the mental mistake in the third inning of what became a 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves (see story), Herrera jogged out toward the outfield to hand teammate Rhys Hoskins his glove and cap after Hoskins had been stranded on first base.
Standing in shallow left field, Herrera apologized to Hoskins for the base-running blunder. The moment spoke volumes because it showed that Herrera had some self-awareness — that can only help his growth as a player — and it showed how much he respected Hoskins. The moment confirmed that even after just 65 games in the majors, Hoskins is emerging as this club’s leader.
Hoskins’ quick on-field chat with Herrera came with a pat on the back and was reminiscent of something Darren Daulton or Chase Utley might have done.
“That’s a situation where you don’t really need to say anything,” Hoskins said a day later. “He knows what he could have done differently. He doesn't need anyone to say tell him to slide. He knows that.
“He said he was sorry. I was going to say something regardless because I didn’t want it to be on his mind. I just kind of reiterated, ‘Stay aggressive. Don’t let this change the way that you’re playing.’ There was nothing negative about it. I told him, ‘We’re going to pick you up.’ I didn’t want him to become timid because of a mistake he made. It happens. Physical and mental mistakes will happen. Obviously, if we can eliminate mental mistakes, we’re going to be fine.”
Though he is just 25, a year younger than Herrera, in fact, Hoskins is comfortable taking a leadership role with the club.
“That’s kind of how I’ve always been as a person and a player,” Hoskins said. “I’m not necessarily a rah-rah guy. I’ve never been that guy. I don’t want to be that guy. But if things need to be said to someone, I’m willing to do that. Someone has to do it.
“There’s a lot of things that the staff or the manager can say to you, but I think as soon as your teammates say the same thing, that might hold a little more weight.”
Jim Fregosi always believed that Daulton’s growth as a leader was vital to the rise of the 1993 Phillies and Charlie Manuel will tell you that his great teams benefited from Utley’s quiet, behind-the-scenes counsel.
Gabe Kapler might have his guy.
“I very much appreciate the way Hoskins looks out for his teammates,” Kapler said. “From the moment I met him, he’s been a great teammate. He’s very good at seeing what’s coming and I think it’s great he had a chat with Odubel.”