Much has been learned about Odubel Herrera over the past few days.
The underachieving center fielder found himself out of the lineup only to return with a vengeance before getting caught in an ugly situation brought on by a Phillies legend.
Yet, Herrera never seemed to be fazed.
The story begins with Herrera’s dreadful performance in May that saw him bat .183 and go 2-for-25 to finish the month. He left manager Pete Mackanin with no choice but to bench him. The flamboyant outfielder rode the pine three times over a four game span.
There were even those suggesting Herrera be sent down to Lehigh Valley as a wake-up call. Fortunately it never came to that, and Herrera clearly rewarded the patience of the Philies.
On Friday, general manager Matt Klentak told reporters he wouldn’t send him down, believing that a turnaround was coming. He was right.
The 2016 All Star has completely turned it around in June. He has racked up nine doubles during the team’s four-game winning streak. He’s also drove in nine runs and has a pair of home runs.
His 19 doubles leads all big leaguers.
“He looked like the guy we know he can be,” said Mackanin to the assembled media in Atlanta after Herrera became the first Phillie with two doubles in three straight games. “It’s great to see.”
Everything was finally going his way … until Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt went onto 94.1 WIP and said Herrera cannot be a leader or centerpiece of the Phillies’ rebuild.
“First of all, it’s a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can’t be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four, five American players and talk about the game. Or try and learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game. Or come over to a guy and say, ‘Man, you gotta run that ball out.’ Just can’t be — because of the language barrier — that kind of a player.”
Schmidt would later clarify and issue an apology to Herrera regarding his insensitive remarks.
Herrera accepted the apology, adding that he doesn’t agree with the comment but that he still respects him as a player.
“It’s disappointing because you never want to hear negative comments, but he called me, he apologized and explained what happened,” Herrera said. “Everything is good.”
The 25-year-old has dealt with some serious stuff lately — from being benched, seeing his name called for a demotion and the racial comments — but he proved himself in more than one ways.
He’s capable of being a very good big leaguer, and he just may have that short-term memory and focus that resides in a leader.