Herrera clubhouse fit a hot-button issue for Phillies

Odubel Herrera Phillies
Odubel Herrera has returned to the Phillies after an 85-game suspension.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies have afforded outfielder Odubel Herrera another opportunity to get back into baseball and potentially win a spot on the big club’s roster for the 2021 season.

But it remains to be seen if he’ll be accepted by most of his teammates.

Herrera was arrested in 2019 for assaulting his girlfriend, prompting an 85-game suspension that ended his season. But because of a joint agreement on domestic abuse between Major League Baseball and the players’ union, the Phillies were not able to void the rest of Herrera’s contract which runs through the end of the 2021 season.

On Wednesday, Phillies slugging first baseman and union representative Rhys Hoskins weighed in on how his teammates will welcome Herrera back into the clubhouse after serving his suspension.

“I wish I had a crystal ball,” Hoskins said from spring training. “Everyone is going to react differently to a situation like this. Maybe some guys have something like this in their past and it cuts a little bit deeper. Some guys may also believe that everybody deserves a second chance if they’ve proven that they’re willing to move on.

“So, I don’t know how it’s going to play out. I think everybody is kind of watching it. We just all know that it’s on him to try to gain the trust of the organization back that he’s become a better person because of it.”

Members of the Philadelphia Phillies workout during spring training at Spectrum Field.Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a hot-button issue that manager Joe Girardi has already addressed, imploring that he’ll keep a watchful eye on interactions and morale in the clubhouse.

“It will be a pulse that I’m always checking in the room to make sure that guys are OK,” Girardi said last week. “But we are not allowed to keep a player from being a participant because maybe someone doesn’t like him.

“There may be guys that never have open arms, but I would ask that everyone gives him a chance to prove himself, that’s all. I mean, he’s got to prove himself to me, as well, on a lot of different fronts, but I would ask that everyone gives him the opportunity because none of us are perfect.

“We’ve all fallen short. That’s the bottom line. Some things are considered, obviously, worse than others — I get that — in the eyes of the beholder. But none of us are perfect.”

Phillies ace Aaron Nola has already gone on record saying that he’s ready to welcome back Herrera, adding that “I believe in second chances.”

But there obviously is still plenty of work to be done to ensure that Herrera won’t disrupt the Phillies’ ecosystem down in Clearwater.

“He seems like he’s in a good place right now. How that shows itself over the next six or eight weeks, who knows? So, we’ll try to take it day by day,” Hoskins said. ““I don’t know anybody who would condone what happened a couple years ago. I think we have to remember that he was in minor-league camp last year so I think that’s important to remember.

“Everyone knows he’s going to have to earn the clubhouse’s trust back and I think he knows it, as well. So, I think that’s what we’re going to focus on as a group.

“Obviously, he needs to play and make the team, but we’re just going to try to focus on seeing what he can do to earn our trust back and let the chips kind of fall where they may.”

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