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Mike Schmidt: Odubel Herrera must be more comfortable with language

Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt says centerfielder 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 and doubled in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning of Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory over Atlanta. Schmidt, a part-time analyst and spring training instructor for the team, said he picked him to win the NL batting title this season.

Herrera, 25, speaks to reporters through an interpreter and isn’t as comfortable doing interviews as some of his Spanish-speaking teammates. Freddy Galvis, a fellow Venezuelan, is the team’s clubhouse leader.

“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.”

Herrera plays with energy and emotion. But he can also irritate opponents when he flips his bat on fly outs and he has angered his manager for lack of hustle. Manager Pete Mackanin once benched Herrera after he failed to run hard to first base on a bouncer to the pitcher in the seventh inning of a close game.

“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 WIP. “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.”

Brewers 5, Giants 2: Chase Anderson pitched 7 2⁄3 shutout innings, drove in a run and won his third straight game and Hernán Pérez homered for host Milwaukee. Anderson (5-1) extended his scoreless streak to 21 2⁄3 innings with the win.

Colon placed on DL

The Atlanta Braves have placed Bartolo Colon on the 10-day disabled list with a strain in his left side.

The move Tuesday comes one day after Colon allowed eight runs in 3 2⁄3 innings in an 11-4 loss to Philadelphia. Following the game, the 44-year-old Colon said, “Physically and mentally I still feel good.”

Braves manager Brian Snitker says Colon has received treatment “for a while” for the oblique problem, but added he doesn’t believe the injury is “huge.”

Colon (2-7) has the highest ERA in the majors among qualified pitchers, at 7.78. He has failed to pitch more than 5 2⁄3 innings in eight straight starts, the longest streak of his career.

New York Sports