July 25, 2017
With two on and one out in the first inning of Tuesday’s game at Citizens Bank Park, Howie Kendrick legged out a ground ball to shortstop, setting up two potentially good scenarios for the Phillies:
• With less than a week to go before the trade deadline, Kendrick’s legs look healthy.
• With one of baseball’s best offense’s across the way in the visiting dugout in the Houston Astros, the Phillies had their best hitter up with a chance to take an early lead.
Odubel Herrera had a great pitch to hit, too. Former teammate Charlie Morton didn’t sink a 2-0 fastball enough and Herrera gave it a ride.
Before the ball even began to sail toward the fence in deep center field, Herrera emphatically let go of his bat in celebration. As he does for big hits and routine outs alike.
This was an out, thanks to Derek Fisher making an athletic sprint and catch right at the “409” sign at the deepest part of the park in center.
Bat-flipping an out might be peak Odubel Herrera. pic.twitter.com/U3iV6qymPH— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) July 25, 2017
Astros dugout mocking Odubel Herrera after he did not run out of box on long fly ball to wall. CF Derek Fisher made a nice catch— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) July 25, 2017
It was an out the Houston Astros had fun mocking, or at least had fun chastising the flamboyant Phillies center fielder’s premature celebration. Other than Herrera receiving a high-and-inside fastball from Morton in his next at-bat, not much else happened.
At least, that was until his strikeout in the bottom of the sixth inning, a strikeout that ended with Evan Gattis dropping the third strike and Herrera making no attempt to begin running to first base. A half inning later, Herrera was out of the game, double switched as Pete Mackanin summoned reliever Luis Garcia into the game.
Coincidence that he chose to double switch Herrera and not, say, Maikel Franco or Howie Kendrick, who also made outs in the previous half inning?
“Eh, it had something to do with it,” Mackanin said. “I’m going to talk with (Herrera) tomorrow.”
It was then pointed out to Mackanin that he’s had to have a lot of these types of conversations with the enigmatic Herrera this season, a year after the center fielder represented the Phillies in the All-Star Game and finished as a finalist for a Gold Glove award, too.
“I’m going to keep having conversations, that’s all,” Mackanin said. “He’s a different kind of guy. I just have to keep him pointed in the right direction.”
Herrera was not in the Phillies clubhouse when it opened to the media after the game. He had already left for the night.
It should be pointed out that, with Herrera’s flaws in playing the game as it’s intended at the highest level (running out balls, paying attention to base coaches, etc.), he’s easily been the team’s most productive offensive player in the last three seasons. It should also be pointed out that, after his slow start to 2017, Herrera is once again looking like an All-Star caliber hitter.
Herrera entered play on Tuesday hitting .337 with a .380 OBP, 20 doubles and six home runs in 44 games since June 1. And on the season as a whole, only Washington’s Daniel Murphy has more doubles among National League hitters than Odubel Herrera.
And his defense, according to advanced metrics from FanGraphs, rated among the top five players in all of baseball, regardless of position.
“Odubel does a lot for us,” Mackanin said. “He’s just a different character and we have to deal with him in a certain way. I’ll have a nice talk with him tomorrow and he’s going to be fine. He’s been doing very well in that regard in the last month or so. But he just needs a reminder.”
Will a day ever come where he doesn’t need a reminder that he should run out balls regularly?
“I think that day will come,” Mackanin said. “As we all know, he’s been swinging the bat very well and he does a lot of awful good things for us. His defense is good, he swings the bat – he’s going to end up hitting over .290. He just, he’s in the development stage as well, let’s put it that way.”
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