2021 Phillies roster: Dave Dombrowski on Odubel Herrera’s exclusion from Opening Day lineup

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Jim Salisbury
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Dombrowski provides insights, answers on Herrera’s exclusion from Phillies roster originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The decision to carry Adam Haseley over Odubel Herrera on the Phillies’ opening day roster was purely a baseball call, Dave Dombrowski, the team’s president of baseball operations, said Tuesday.

So public relations did not factor in the decision?

“No, I don’t think so,” Dombrowski said. “It’s really performance-related at this point. It was a tough decision. For me, it was a matter of who I thought would be best for our club at this time.”

Dombrowski, general manager Sam Fuld and manager Joe Girardi made the decision to award Haseley the final roster spot over Herrera after the final spring training game Monday afternoon. Dombrowski said he did not consult with ownership on Monday and that he was given clearance to carry Herrera earlier in the spring.

“I talked to them throughout spring training, from the beginning,” Dombrowski said. “They were always consistent with me – pick what you feel is the best team, it’s up to you, it’s your decision, as long as (Herrera) continues to follow the protocols, which he has.

“He’s been great. He’s been on time, he’s worked hard. He’s in a position where you can tell there’s a part of him that is very much sorry for what he did and he continues to echo that.

“So, no, they didn’t get involved at all. Once we made the decision, I sent an email to update them on our decision.”

Herrera held the Phillies’ starting centerfield job from the start of the 2015 season until May 26, 2019, when he was placed on administrative leave and later suspended by Major League Baseball for violating the league’s policy against domestic violence.

Herrera had been arrested for assaulting his girlfriend in Atlantic City. All legal charges were dropped and the couple is still together.

The Phillies removed Herrera from their 40-man roster in late 2019 and assigned him to the minor leagues. He did not play in 2020 as the minor-league season was canceled because of the COVID pandemic.

MLB rules prohibit teams from releasing or voiding the contract of a player after he’s already been penalized by the league for violating the policy against domestic abuse. So Herrera, still under contract through 2021, was invited to compete for his old job this spring. He hit four home runs but batted just .231 overall and his on-base percentage was just .245. In the end, the Phillies decided to carry Roman Quinn and Haseley as their centerfielders.

Quinn is a switch-hitter so he could platoon out of the gate with the lefty-hitting Haseley.

Dombrowski said the club valued Quinn’s game-changing speed and that was a big reason he made the club. Haseley missed 16 games with a groin injury in camp and had just 19 at-bats, but he did have six hits, including a double and a homer.

“Haseley hasn’t had a lot of at-bats, but he swung the bat well when we saw him at the end,” Dombrowski said. “We think he’s ready to take that next step and get a chance to play.

“Odubel, at times, did very well but at the end of camp was not consistent offensively. He hit the ball out of the ballpark and is very talented. But I think for us, when you look at Odubel’s situation, you’re talking about someone who has had 50 spring training at-bats over a couple of years and it’s going to be tough for him to be consistent at this point, though, at times you see the flashes.

“So, for us, it was better that he go out and play on an everyday basis and see what happens over the next time period. We like him, he did well but that was really the final determining factor – go out and get more at bats so we can hopefully see more consistency of the good swings.”

Herrera will report to the team’s alternate training site in Lehigh Valley with a group of players that will likely make up the Triple A club. That group will play games against the Mets and Yankees reserve group until the Triple A season begins in early May.

By that time, Haseley or Quinn may have locked down the center field job.

But if they haven’t, would Dombrowski have any reservations about bringing up Herrera?

“No,” he said. “If he was performing.”

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