Odubel Herrera was the target of some rather vicious criticism in a Sports Illustrated report earlier this week. An anonymous major league scout called Herrera “a dog” and “a clown,” and there was even some racial innuendo in the comments.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler used his pregame session with reporters Saturday to respond.
“I think that statement about Odubel was, first, completely factually inaccurate. Also, I thought it was fairly inappropriate,” Kapler said. “Odubel plays the game with a lot of energy and he plays the game with a lot of enthusiasm. I personally love having Odubel on our club. And I think our organization loves having Odubel on our club as well. I think we should have a pretty high standard for what we quote and what we share. And I think that quote shouldn't have been shared.”
(The view here is that there’s nothing wrong with a scout exercising his freedom of speech and offering his feelings. But, good gosh, if you’re going to say something so damning, so pejorative, have the gonads to put your name on it.)
Kapler continued, saying the scout’s analysis, “was so far from the truth about Odubel. It's just not who we think he is. And I feel like we have a pretty good view. We've seen Odubel a lot. And he is a hard worker, a hustler and somebody to be celebrated, not hammered down in my opinion.”
Now, as any Phillies fan knows, Herrera is not a perfect pupil. He has shown some shortcomings in the area of focus and concentration during his time with the Phillies. He’s made mental mistakes on the bases and in the field. He’s failed to run out balls from time to time. He's been chided by his managers behind closed doors.
Kapler acknowledged as much.
But he still doesn't like what was said about Herrera.
“There's no doubt, we've talked about it at length, that there's times that Odubel can focus more, concentrate more, bring a higher level of play,” Kapler said. “And you know what? So can everybody. And we can call out those moments where the game has to be elevated and challenge him. And we will. But a generalization of who Odubel is, that just was BS, unquestionably.
“I'll just say that the commentary was inappropriate.”
Sports Illustrated agreed. It amended the quote after it was initially posted.
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