Phillies call up Odubel Herrera: 'We just felt it was time'

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Jim Salisbury
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Phillies bring up Odubel Herrera: 'We just felt it was time' originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies made a flurry of roster moves before Monday's series opener against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

The big one: Odubel Herrera was called up from the alternate site. He is in Monday night's starting lineup in center field, batting seventh. It will be his first action in the majors in 23 months. He served an 85-game suspension in 2019 for violating Major League Baseball's policy against domestic violence.

"We just felt it was time," manager Joe Girardi said of the decision to bring Herrera to the majors.

"I think he's really excited to have this opportunity to prove himself to his teammates, the organization and to the fan base. He's worked really hard to get this opportunity and now he has to make the most of it.

"Some people aren't necessarily going to like this decision and those are feelings I respect. Some people probably don't care so much either way. And there will be other people who say, 'Let's see what he can do with a second chance.' There is probably a myriad of emotions with the fans in the stands, and I get that, and we'll deal with them as they come."

Starting Monday night, the Phillies play four games in St. Louis. They return to Philadelphia on Friday night.

It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Herrera gets.

There had been a question of whether Herrera would be welcomed back into the clubhouse by teammates. During spring training, some said they had no problem with him getting a second chance while others were noncommittal, even lukewarm.

Girardi said he's spoken to players continually for months about the matter to see if there would be any objections.

"If it was a big issue, it would have been brought to my attention," he said. "That has not been the case."

Herrera, 29, becomes the fourth player to start at the center field position for the Phillies this season. He competed for the job in spring training, but team officials decided he needed more at-bats at the alternate site. 

"He's had 50 or so at-bats down there which we thought was important because when you think about it, he didn't play in the second half of '19 and he didn't play really in '20. We felt he needed more at-bats. He's got them now. And now he's got an opportunity."

Girardi said Herrera would get a chance to play every day.

The Phils have gotten woeful production from their previous three centerfielders, Roman Quinn, Adam Haseley and Mickey Moniak. They are a combined 9 for 77 (.117) with one homer and three RBIs. Haseley left the team for personal reasons two weeks ago.

Moniak, 22, was sent to the alternate site on Monday as the Phils cleared room on the active roster for Herrera.

"Mickey hit a big three-run home run for us (on Wednesday), but he's struggled a little bit," Girardi said. "I think he's a much better player than he showed. I think he's going to be here for a long time and be very productive. I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to be a very good player here, but in the short term he struggled."

The Phillies have also gotten poor production from leadoff man Andrew McCutchen. He was not in Monday night's starting lineup. Brad Miller was set to bat leadoff and play left field. That could end up as a platoon down the road if McCutchen doesn't find his stroke. 

Herrera could eventually become an option at leadoff. He's hit there in the past.

In other pregame news Monday:

The Phillies sent pitchers Spencer Howard and Bailey Falter to the alternate site. Howard will be stretched out as a starter. The Phils have had performance issues at the back end of the rotation. Howard could offer a potential solution at some point, though the team remains cognizant of his innings/workload.

Reliever Jose Alvarado was activated from COVID protocol and will be available in the bullpen Monday night. Starting pitcher Matt Moore was also activated from the COVID list. He will not jump right back into the rotation Wednesday night. Vince Velasquez will get that start while the team gauges Moore's readiness.

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