Odubel Herrera took one small step toward earning back the trust of his biggest fans

Odubel Herrera took one small step toward earning back the trust of his biggest fans

Odubel Herrera has a lot of work to do. He has to remain remorseful, show that he's grown, genuinely repair his image and also try to work his way back onto the Phillies' 40-man roster.

GM Matt Klentak was as definitive as ever Thursday morning describing all that Herrera has to do to reclaim a spot with the Phillies. Herrera was suspended for the final 85 games last season for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic violence. 

The incident involved his then-20-year-old girlfriend and took place at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.

Herrera's girlfriend "had visible signs of injury to her arms and neck that was sustained after being assaulted by her boyfriend, David Odubel Herrera, during a dispute," according to the police report. Herrera was charged with simple assault. Charges were dropped six weeks later and Herrera was cleared legally when she refused to press charges.

On the field, Herrera had not produced for over a year. His plate selection had eroded, his defense was shaky, the baserunning blunders continued and he wasn't doing enough bad-ball hitting to make up for any of it. All of that was and is secondary.

No single comment or act will serve as repentance for Herrera, and in the words of Klentak, "he has to do everything 100 percent right on and off the field." But one story that came to light on social media Thursday shows that he is trying.

Back in 2017, three-year-old Ellie Davis really wanted to go to Phillies game after a three-day hosptital visit. (She's perfectly healthy now.) Dad took her, they had great seats down the first-base line and she even got a ball from Herrera.

"She jumped up and down & yelled his name," her father, Drew Davis, recalled. "He waved back — she was all smiles. When he got done warming up, he brought her a ball. She went from being scared and sad to the happiest kid in the world."

That's not the uncommon part. Kids get baseballs from players all the time. 

"In July (2017), we went to picture day," Drew Davis said. "It felt like he remembered her. He brought her under the ropes and gave her a big hug. He found her later and gave her another ball and then went out and hit a home run. She said “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!”

Still haven't gotten to the most surprising part.

When news broke of Herrera's domestic violence incident, Drew Davis felt extremely conflicted. Here was someone his daughter looked up to in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Drew wrote a letter to Odubel reminding him how important he was to some kids. The note made its way to Herrera and it led to a night out late last summer with Odubel Herrera as the special dinner guest, a surprise for Ellie.

"I had a lot of trepidation but nothing ever seemed orchestrated or for publicity," Davis told NBC Sports Philadelphia. "The plan was to have some appetizers, spend some time and that would be it. Instead, he had apps, entrees, dessert, coffee ... it was pretty incredible. Checked all the boxes that I could’ve hoped for."

"He told my daughter how he played volleyball as a kid. She talked to him about her swimming. He said he’d come and watch her in the Olympics some day. He gave my son swing tips and my son (he’s 3) showed him how to bat flip. My nerves were eased almost immediately.

"I wasn’t ready to get rid of those memories — but I didn’t want to create new memories if he wasn’t working on being a role model. That part remains to be seen, but I was happy with what I saw." 

One small step in the right direction.

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Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Because of the coronavirus health crisis and the delay in starting the Major League Baseball season, the Phillies remain in a holding pattern on a couple of significant baseball matters, general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday.

It's still unclear whether reliever Seranthony Dominguez will opt to have his injured right elbow surgically repaired. The health crisis has prevented Dominguez from getting a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews. Dominguez is currently with family in his native Dominican Republic.

"Medicine is not always black and white," Klentak said. "There's a possibility it may head down that (surgical) road, but until he gets the second opinion, we have no firm declaration. For a lot of players, surgery is a last option, particularly when the surgery keeps you out as long as Tommy John surgery does. Before we go down that road, we want to make sure everyone is in agreement on what the right course of action is."

Dominguez saw Andrews shortly after injuring his elbow in early June last season. Surgery was not recommended at that time, but Dominguez missed the remainder of the season. He had a setback in August and again in March and all signs point to his needing surgery. Andrews would be a likely person to handle the surgery, but he is not seeing patients at the moment because of the health crisis.

Surgery, whenever it happens, would sideline Dominguez for more than a year.

The other matter currently on hold involves All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and the team's effort to sign him to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent in the fall. The two sides had begun negotiations in February, but those talks, by mandate from Major League Baseball, are now on hold because of the health crisis.

Could the freeze on negotiations and the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a 2020 season hurt the Phillies in their quest to keep Realmuto off the free-agent market?

"Whenever we resume playing, we'll see what the circumstances are and re-engage," Klentak said. "Nobody can predict what the parameters will be at that point or what will happen, but I think everyone knows we love J.T. and he's a player we'd love to have for the long haul."

Thursday would have been the Phillies' home opener. They had been scheduled to play their first seven games on the road before MLB suspended action on March 12 and encouraged players to head home. Training facilities have subsequently been closed except to a handful of players who are rehabilitating from injuries. 

MLB still hopes to have a season in some form, but nothing is certain. Like the rest of the world, it is at the mercy of the virus.

"I don't have enough information to know what's going to happen and I'm not sure anyone does," Klentak said. "What I am confident about is owners, players, front offices, fans, media, everybody is aligned in wanting to play baseball as quickly as we can. When all parties are as aligned as that, it gives me confidence that we'll get back as soon as we can get back. But I'm not in a position to make any predictions as to when that might happen.

"We'll do the best we can in the interim to prepare for the season. If it's a traditional season, we'll be prepared. If it's a modified season, we'll be prepared. I have a lot of confidence in league operations."

A resumed spring training would be required before any type of regular season, but Klentak would not speculate on what that might look like.

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Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

The suspension of the Major League Baseball season due to the coronavirus health crisis has already hurt the revenues of all teams and will continue to do so as long as the game is shut down.

This has some people who work for teams all over baseball concerned about their jobs. 

Every MLB team, according to sources, has informed its full-time employees that business will run as usual through the end of April at which point teams will assess their respective situations.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak on Thursday was asked about the potential for layoffs or salary cuts within the organization.

"That's a situation that is not unique to baseball, unfortunately," Klentak said. "A lot of decisions will be made above my pay grade, obviously. For all of us, we are hopeful that we'll resume and not have to take measures like that. We trust that the Phillies are owned and run by very good people — and have been for a long time. Everybody is trying to do the best thing right now."

Layoffs and salary cuts were a big issue during the work stoppage in 1994-95. Some teams did cut full-time staff and pay. The Phillies did not.

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