odubel herrera

Joe Girardi's Phillies lineup is nearly set, except for one outfield question mark

Joe Girardi's Phillies lineup is nearly set, except for one outfield question mark

The start of the Phillies' abbreviated 2020 season is two weeks away, and manager Joe Girardi has a pretty good idea of what his team's Opening Day defensive alignment will look like.  

J.T. Realmuto will be behind the plate, presumably catching Aaron Nola. Jean Segura will likely be the starting third baseman, next to new shortstop Didi Gregorius. Now healthy after a wicked bout with COVID-19, Scott Kingery projects as the starting second baseman. Rhys Hoskins will play first base. Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper are locked in at the corner outfield spots. 

That leaves center field as the only position up for grabs. 

Second-year player Adam Haseley and fourth-year veteran Roman Quinn are the primary candidates. 

The 24-year old Haseley was the 8th overall pick of the 2017 MLB draft and quickly climbed through the Phillies minor league system. He played 67 games last season as a rookie and showed flashes of being a productive big league outfielder, hitting .266 with 14 doubles, five home runs, and 26 RBI. He also made a handful of spectacular defensive plays.

Quinn, 27, has long tantalized the front office and fans alike with his immense talent. His blazing speed makes him a weapon on the basepaths and allows him to cover a ton of ground in the outfield. He also has a fair amount of pop, collecting 20 extra-base hits in 139 at-bats the last two seasons. But injuries have been a common theme throughout Quinn's professional career. He's never been able to stay healthy long enough to show what he's capable of over the course of a full season. 

Quinn and Haseley competed for the center field job during spring training in Clearwater and will continue to do so over the next two weeks of training camp at Citizens Bank Park. The manager isn't in a rush to name a starter.

"My mind is really open with that spot," Girardi told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Michael Barkann earlier this week. "If one guy emerges, it's one guy. If it's a platoon, it's a platoon. If one guy plays more than the other, we have that.

"The big thing is we get production out of center field, that's what I'm looking for. And that doesn't necessarily mean home runs, it could mean getting on base and scoring runs and a lot of different things including really good defense. I'm just going to let it play out and see who rises to the top here." 

Whoever plays center field will likely be hitting towards the bottom of the batting order. There won't be a ton of pressure to put up big offensive numbers. 

There is one other possibility to consider when it comes to the center field situation: Odubel Herrera.

The 28-year old Herrera isn't currently on the Phillies' 60-man summer camp roster, but he could be added at any point. GM Matt Klentak didn't rule out that scenario last week. 

On Thursday's 'Phillies Return to Play' show, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury indicated Herrera could still be an option if neither Haseley or Quinn play well enough to claim the job. 

There are a lot of question marks at the moment when it comes to the Phillies' center field job. Girardi is hopeful one of the candidates will step up over the next couple of weeks and provide some answers.

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Phillies apparently still have no trade interest in Odubel Herrera

Phillies apparently still have no trade interest in Odubel Herrera

Odubel Herrera's exclusion from the Phillies' initial player pool is further indication that there is no trade interest in the talented but controversial outfielder.

Major League Baseball's operations manual for the shortened 2020 season states that a player can only be traded if he is included in his team's 60-man player pool.

The Phillies used 53 spots in filing their pool with the Commissioner's office on Sunday night. That list is likely to grow in the coming days — in fact, it did Monday with the re-signing of reliever Anthony Swarzak to a minor-league contract — and Herrera could certainly be added. But leaving him off the initial list is telling as it relates to the team's efforts to trade him.

For months, the Phillies have made it clear to teams that Herrera could be had in a trade, but there have been no nibbles — even with the Phillies willing to cover the bulk of his salary.

Herrera accepted an 85-game suspension without pay for violating MLB's policy against domestic violence last season. The policy, agreed on jointly by MLB and the Players Association, forbids releasing a player or voiding his contract for violating the policy. Herrera remains signed through the 2021 season as part of a five-year, $30.5 million contract

Herrera was waived off the Phillies' 40-man roster in January and assigned to the minor leagues, where he was given no guarantee of having a future with the club. In fact, general manager Matt Klentak, on more than one occasion, said Herrera would have to earn anything he got.

Herrera was a participant in minor-league camp when baseball shut down in March.

Herrera was arrested in Atlantic City on May 27, 2019 for assaulting his girlfriend, Melany Martinez-Angulo. The charges were dropped in July and Herrera went through an extensive counseling program.

In late February, Herrera apologized publicly for his actions.

"There's no one who regrets this more than me," the 28-year-old player said. "I wanted to say I'm sorry to the fans and the organization. It's been a lesson learned for me and I want to turn the page and keep going with life."

The Phillies' player pool consists of nine outfielders. Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper are firm at the corners and Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley are both expected to get reps in center field.

On Monday, Klentak said Herrera was considered for the current pool and will "continue to gain consideration."

Klentak added, "I think as we get towards the end of spring training, there'll probably be a second wave of players that join and that could include somebody like Odubel." 

If baseball were the only consideration, adding Herrera would be a no-brainer, especially if the team sustained an injury or was in need of depth in the outfield. Inclusion in the pool does not guarantee that a player will see game action, but he can continue to train under team supervision with similar depth players once the season begins. The season will begin July 23 or 24. After that, Phillies pool players will work out daily in Lehigh Valley.

But Herrera's situation remains much bigger than a baseball issue and the socially conscious Phillies are very much aware of that. Adding him to the pool is one thing. Having him suit up in the big leagues is another — and it's not clear if the Phillies will ever take that step. Maybe they will. Maybe they won't.

Herrera was due to make $10.3 million before the shutdown this season. (He's on a guaranteed big league contract so that salary will be prorated over 60 games, regardless of whether he’s active or not this season.) He is on the books for nearly $13 million next season. He can be released — for baseball reasons only — at any time.

Or he can be traded — though his exclusion from the current player pool strongly suggests that there is still no interest.

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Odubel Herrera apologizes to Phillies and Phillies fans in first public statement since arrest

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Odubel Herrera apologizes to Phillies and Phillies fans in first public statement since arrest

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.”

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