Phillies Turning to Odubel Herrera to Play Center Field
After seeing a trio of center fielders combine to hit .101 over the first 21 games of the season, the Phillies simply thought it was time to bring up Odubel Herrera on Monday.
"We just felt it was time to give him an opportunity to be our center fielder," Phillies manager Joe Girardi said before the game on Monday in St. Louis.
The team called Herrera up from their alternate site, making it the first time he has appeared in a Major League game since serving an 85-game domestic violence suspension in 2019.
"He had a smile on his face," Phillies manager Joe Girardi said when asked about Herrera's reaction to the news.
Herrera hasn't appeared in a game since being was arrested back on May 27, 2019 after allegedly attacking his girlfriend inside the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City. Per reports at the time, there were hand print markings on Herrera's girlfriends' neck and scratches on her arms. All charges against him -- including simple assault and knowingly causing bodily injury -- were dropped.
Herrera was in the Phillies lineup, hitting seventh and playing center, and looked a lot like his previous three teammates going 0-3 with a strikeout.
While Phillies center fielders were certainly not getting the job done, it almost seems as if this was a predetermined moved.
Roman Quinn got all of 31 at-bats before the team pulled the plug on his tenure, Mickey Moniak got 25 at-bats and Adam Haseley left the team for personal reasons and will be away from an undetermined amount of time.
Meanwhile the team said at the conclusion of Spring Training that Herrera needed more time, which is why he did not break camp with the team, which instead went with Quinn and Haseley in center.
"Our biggest concern when we left Spring Training is he had not had that many at-bats in the last couple years," Girardi explained. "We were concerned about some inconsistencies and just not having a whole lot of playing time."
Apparently about 50 at-bats at the alternate site was enough for the team to pull the trigger and feel more comfortable about him being ready to face big league pitching.
"He went and got 50 or 60 at-bats down there, we fell better about where he is at," Girardi said.
While I think many of us understand Quinn, Haseley, Moniak and even Scott Kingery were not the answer in center field, were they really given a fair chance? Did Herrera really get enough reps at the alternate site to prove he is ready after a 23-month layoff from the game?
The Phillies desperate situation in center field, forced them to make a desperate move. At the time of the incident in Atlantic City, Herrera was hitting just .222 with one home run and 16 RBI in 139 plate appearances.
"He has done what Major League baseball and the players association has asked him to do, what was mutually agreed upon," Girardi stated. "He is probably going to be held to a higher standard. Not with his production, but with his on and off-the-field actions because he is going to be under more scrutiny and I think he understands that."
Girardi acknowledged that each of Herrera's new teammates will feel differently about him, but added that he feels pretty good with the situation and will move forward with him as their center fielder.
The Phillies still owe him $13.8 million between his salary for 2021 and the buyouts on his club options for 2022 and 2023.
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