Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt does not believe the Phillies should build their team around 25-year-old star centerfielder Odubel Herrera in part because of the language barrier that comes with the native of Venezuela.
Schmidt, a color analyst for Phillies weekend home games, praised the centerfielder on 94.1 WIP “Morning Show” Tuesday, but said teams should build around a guy who will be able to lead and speak with teammates clearly.
Partial transcript as follows [Relevant portion begins around the 8:31 mark]:
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.
Odubel can be — you see what he’s doing the last three days [8-13, 6 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs] and we saw the inconsistency that dropped his batting average all the way down to the low .200’s prior to the last three games, and that’s really the first time we’ve seen that kind of inconsistency from him. However, he’s more of a sort of, play the game, allow his exuberance for the game to kind of spread around the team. I think the fans love him. He’s not afraid to do things that sort of irk the other team if you will, and you know what that is. I probably would hate him if I played against him because of his antics on the field, but he’s not afraid. He’s not afraid to do that. He’s learning to play a really good centerfield. They haven’t figured out where he needs to hit in the batting order yet.
To answer your question, those are the reasons that I don’t think you can build a team around him. Now, I truly think he can hit second or first on a championship team. There’s no question about that. But to build a team around a guy he has to sprint every ball out like Chase Utley used to do.
After receiving some criticism for his comments being offensive to Latin American players, Schmidt apologized in a statement to CSN Philly.
“It’s been made known to me that my answer on a radio interview this morning to the question, ‘Can the Phillies build a team around Odubel Herrera,’ was disrespectful to Herrera and Latin players in general,” Schmidt stated. “I’m very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone. I assure everyone I had no intention of that. Odubel is a dynamo on the field, and as he becomes more comfortable with the language, his leadership skills will improve, and no doubt he will be a centerpiece in the Phillies future.”
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