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.
I don’t know what is going to happen in the future. I hope for the best. After spending a short time with the man, I only expect the best.— Drewdavis71 (@drewdavis71) September 30, 2019
I get some people will question my decision. I get it - I really do. I questioned it a lot, too. I don’t anymore. pic.twitter.com/utOrbABQu3