Phillies: Odubel Herrera hopes for second chance in majors

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 16: Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park on May 16, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Brewers defeated the Phillies 11-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 16: Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park on May 16, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Brewers defeated the Phillies 11-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera, now in the minors, says he is “very regretful” for his actions last year that violated MLB’s domestic abuse policy.

Philadelphia Phillies minor-league prospects have a lot to prove this spring to better their standing within the organization. Some might impress so much that they earn a spot on the big-league roster, while others may show they deserve a promotion to the next level.

Then there is Odubel Herrera.

The five-year veteran and 2016 National League All-Star center fielder has logged more than 600 games in the majors since debuting in April 2015; yet, he is working alongside Phillies minor-leaguers this spring at the Carpenter Complex. He could very well never play again in Major League Baseball, regardless of his performance down in Clearwater over the next several weeks.

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This is all because of Herrera’s actions last May, when he was arrested and charged on simple assault of his girlfriend in Atlantic City. While the charge was dismissed, Herrera still received an 85-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic abuse policy.

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Herrera made his first public apology on Tuesday for the incident and assured it would never happen again.

“I’m very regretful for what I did. It’s been a lesson learned for me and I want to turn the page and keep going with life,” he told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki through an interpreter. “There’s no one who regrets this more than me. It’s one of those things that I learned from and tried to get better from.”

One way Herrera is learning from his mistake is by completing several counseling sessions over two months in Center City last year following his suspension. Also, the league required Herrera to donate to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV), according to Zolecki. Voluntarily thereafter, he pledged to donate for two more years.

He hopes his teammates would welcome him back, if given a second chance: “We’re all human beings We all make mistakes … I’m training hard. I’m a man of faith so if the Phillies give me a second chance, I would take advantage of that and play my hardest.”

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The Phillies have several other options to choose from if Herrera is not retained past spring training. Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn are already on the 40-man roster as options; also, non-roster invitees such as Mikie Mahtook and Matt Szczur are getting looks this spring. Mahtook launched the club’s first Grapefruit League home run on Monday, a three-run blast against the Baltimore Orioles.

Herrera was limited to just 39 games last season due to the suspension. Last month, the Phillies removed him from their 40-man roster by designating him for assignment. And, after clearing waivers, he was outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

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His next transaction could very well be a release from the organization all-together. Herrera is not thinking about that being a possibility.

“I only can control what I can control and that’s my main focus right now,” he told Zolecki. “Honestly, this whole process has helped me become a better version of me. Especially the counseling sessions in Philly. They were great.”

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Herrera and his girlfriend remain a couple; he says that while they have since grown together and learned from the incident, creating a now-“healthy relationship,” he still takes “full responsibility” for his actions and is “very sorry.”

“Like every couple, sometimes you argue,” Herrera told Zolecki. “Sometimes there are problems. It was an unfortunate situation. I would say it was the lowest point in our relationship.”

Herrera is owed more than $20 million, guaranteed, between this and next season. — $7.35 million in 2020, $10.35 million in 2021, and a $2.5 million club option buyout in 2022.