The Philadelphia Phillies will reportedly be giving center fielder Odubel Herrera a look at 2nd base in spring training.
Manager Pete Mackanin was cornered this week at baseball’s Winter Meetings, and while he handed out major compliments to his incumbent center fielder for his play at the position, the skipper also hinted that Herrera would likely get work at his former infield position in spring training.
As quoted by The News Journal’s Meghan Montemurro at delawareonline.com:
“…let’s put it this way: If somebody comes up that has to play center field for whatever reason – I certainly want Odubel’s bat in the lineup. It might come to that. I’m not looking to do that right now, but it may happen. … He had such a great showing defensively that I don’t want to, like I said, discourage him from making him think it was all for nothing.”
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Herrera played 2nd base and shortstop almost exclusively during his six seasons in the Texas Rangers farm system. He did make 11 appearances in left field, and another two in center field in 2014. Then during his breakthrough performance in last year’s Venezuelan Winter League, Herrera starred in center field.
The Phillies selected Herrera from the Rangers in last December’s Rule 5 Draft, kept him in center field, and reaped the benefits when he not only showed that he could play the position at the big league level, but also showed that he was an impact offensive talent. Herrera ended up as the Phils’ Hank Aaron Award nominee as the club’s top offensive player this past season.
In praising Herrera’s center field play, Mackanin was also quoted by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury as feeling the speedster could play a corner as well:
“He takes charge out there. To me, a centerfielder catches every ball that’s hit in the air until he can’t get it, and then the corners help him out. And that’s how Odubel plays…In my mind right now, he’s the incumbent centerfielder. That doesn’t mean it won’t change in the spring.”
Herrera is almost certainly going to enter spring training as the center fielder. But with Mackanin and the Phillies brass trying to find any way possible to improve on last season’s MLB-worst overall record and 2nd straight NL East basement finish, if a move will help, Herrera will be moved.