Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt called Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Odubel Herreraand issued an apology Tuesday afternoon after saying earlier in the day that he didn't think the center fielder was the type of player the team could build around.
On Tuesday morning, Schmidt, who played for 18 years in Philadelphia, was asked during a radio interview if the Phillies could build around the flashy Herrera, who was born and raised in Venezuela.
"My honest answer to that would be no because of a couple of things," Schmidt told SportsRadio 94WIP. "First of all, it's a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can't be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four, five American players and talk about the game. Or try and learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game. Or come over to a guy and say, 'Man, you gotta run that ball out.'
"[He] just can't be -- because of the language barrier -- that kind of a player."
Schmidt later issued an apology, and Herrera told reporters that Schmidt called him to make sure everything was OK.
"I don't agree with his comments but I respect him as a player," Herrera said through a translator. "I know he's one of the greatest Phillies of all time, but I don't agree with his comments.
"It is disappointing because you never want to hear negative comments, but he called me, he apologized, he explained what happened. So everything is good."
Schmidt also issued an apology for his comments.
"It's been made known to me that my answer ... was disrespectful to Herrera and Latin players in general," the statement said. "I'm very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone. 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."
During the radio interview Tuesday morning, Schmidt discussed Herrera's on-field antics.
"I think the fans love him. He's not afraid to do things that sort of irk the other team, if you will, and you know what that is," Schmidt told 94WIP on Tuesday morning, before issuing his apology. "I probably would hate him if I played against him because of his antics on the field, but he's not afraid. He's not afraid to do that.
"... Those are the reasons that I don't think you can build a team around him. Now, I truly think he can hit second or first on a championship team. There's no question about that."
Herrera, who signed a five-year, $30.5 million contract in December, is hitting .243 this season. But he has improved his play recently, going 8-of-13 with two home runs and eight RBIs in his past three games.
Mike Schmidt apologizes for saying language barrier limits Odubel Herrera
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