Phillies legend says the team can’t build around a player who can’t hold a conversation in English
A cloud hangs over Citizens Bank Park Tuesday morning as the team wrestles over the public relations nightmare created by one of their greatest players of all time.
Hall of Fame third baseman and weekend TV color analyst Mike Schmidt made what some are calling disparaging comments towards center fielder Odubel Herrera.
When asked on 94.1 WIP whether the team can build around a player like Herrera, who’s made an adjustment in his swing that’s reignited his bat, Schmidt, 67, held off on giving the Venezuelan fielder that title.
One reason was that his on-field antics would someday catch up to him, while the other was the language barrier the Spanish-speaking Herrera faces.
"“My honest answer to that would be no because of a couple of things. “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.’“[He] just can’t be – because of the language barrier – that kind of a player.”"
The entire interview with Schmidt, which involves his work with skin cancer and implementing sunscreen stands across the city, can be heard below.
Schmidt’s comments weren’t made in a way to criticize Herrera, but the comments in today’s media are spreading like wildfire.
The team won’t have a weekend series until June 18 thanks to a prolonged road trip, which keeps Schmidt off the air for almost two weeks. That might be long enough for the airwaves to cool down around the comments, although the team and Schmidt are likely to make a statement regarding his comments.
To some extent, Schmidt is correct in saying that Herrera’s language barrier prevents him from tutoring younger players through verbal communication. But that doesn’t mean he can’t lead by example on or off the field.
It also doesn’t mean the team can’t build around the one player who represented them at the All-Star game last year.
The bat flips and related antics made by Herrera may wear off with experience, as the 25-year-old becomes more mature. Until then the team can’t suppress a rising player in the organization and must continue to build his maturity.
Herrera’s never had an incident off the field that can be highlighted, nor has he been a disruption in the locker room in his two seasons in Philadelphia. There’s a strong possibility the team could have Herrera on a championship roster one day with a more mature approach at the plate.
You can’t simply knock it as Schmidt being someone from a different generation who knows how to avoid stepping on the nails of modern-day society. It’ll likely be handled internally by the organization, and the franchise home run leader will return to the broadcast booth in due time.