Schmidt clarifies remarks on Herrera’s language barrier
PHILADELPHIA | Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt says Philadelphia center fielder Odubel Herrera can be a team leader as he “becomes more comfortable with the language.”
Schmidt drew criticism Tuesday for saying in an interview on 94 WIP-FM that Herrera’s language barrier prevented him from being a player the Phillies can build their team around. He later clarified his remarks in a statement.
“All I said was the language barrier he has now would make it difficult to be a team leader,” Schmidt told The Associated Press. “In the future when he learns to communicate better, he can be anything he wants.”
Herrera, a Venezuelan native, was an All-Star in 2016. Schmidt, a part-time analyst and spring training instructor for the team, said he picked him to win the NL batting title this season. The 25-year-old Herrera speaks to reporters through an interpreter and isn’t as comfortable doing interviews as some of his Spanish-speaking teammates.
“I’m very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone,” Schmidt said in a statement released by the team. “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.”