CLEARWATER, Fla. — In his first public statement since his arrest on domestic violence charges in May, Odubel Herrera apologized to the Phillies organization and the team’s fans on Tuesday.
“There’s no one who regrets this more than me,” the 28-year-old outfielder told a small group of reporters at Phillies spring training camp.
Herrera, who is in minor-league camp, showed up on the major-league side shortly before noon and spoke through Diego Ettedgui, the team’s Spanish-language translator.
“I wanted to talk to you guys today because I wanted to say I’m sorry to the fans and the organization,” Herrera said.
“I’m very regretful for what I did. It’s been a lesson learned for me and I want to turn the page and keep going with life.”
Herrera was arrested on May 27 in Atlantic City for assaulting his girlfriend, Melany Martinez-Angulo. The charges were dropped in July, but Herrera was suspended by Major League Baseball for 85 games without pay. He did not appeal the suspension, which was the extent of the punishment that MLB could issue.
By rule, Herrera was reinstated to the Phillies’ 40-man roster when his suspension ended. In January, the Phillies removed him from the 40-man roster and assigned him to the minor leagues. The policy on domestic violence between MLB and the Players Association forbids releasing a player or voiding his contract for violating the policy.
The Phillies still owe Herrera $20 million through the 2021 season. Club officials have said that Herrera will have to “earn” his way back to the big leagues, but there’s no guarantee that will happen because the Phillies have added outfield depth since his suspension. The club can release Herrera – with full pay – for baseball reasons and five weeks in minor-league camp can offer many potential baseball reasons.
“I’m training hard,” Herrera said. “I’m a man of faith so if the Phillies give me a second chance, I would take advantage of that and play my hardest.
“Really, what I want to say today is that I’m very thankful to the Phillies for what they’ve done for me, thankful to the fans because they’ve always been great to me. They’ve always shown me love and appreciation and I don’t take that for granted.”
There are players who have returned to the majors after domestic violence suspensions. But there are others, such as Addison Russell, who are currently out of the game.
Even if the Phillies keep Herrera in the minors in April and allow him to get on a path toward earning his way back to the majors, there are serious questions about whether he’d be accepted back in the clubhouse by teammates. Herrera said he had not yet had the opportunity to apologize to them.
“It’s something that I would like to do and hopefully this interview here can help me do that,” he said. “To me it’s really important to say sorry to my teammates, to my fans, to the organization. That’s key to me.”
Herrera said he “would like to think” his teammates would accept him back.
“We’re all human beings,” he said. “We all make mistakes. I’ve spent a great amount of time with some of them. They are great people. Hopefully they will accept me back and help me go through this.”
Herrera and his girlfriend are still together. He said he participated in two months of counseling in Philadelphia and found it “beneficial.” He also made a donation to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“What I can tell you about that night is that I’m very sorry,” Herrera said. “Melany and I have had a very long relationship. Like every couple, sometimes you argue. Sometimes there are problems. But we’ve grown as a couple. We have a healthy relationship. We’ve learned from that.
“It was an unfortunate situation. I would say it was the lowest point in our relationship. But it’s not my regular behavior.
“Honestly, this whole process has helped me become a better version of me, especially the counseling sessions in Philly. They were great.
“There’s no one who regrets this more than me. It’s one of those things that I learned from and tried to get better from.”