Odubel Herrera: ‘I completely understand if some fans don't like me'


Odubel Herrera has been accepted back into the Phillies' clubhouse.

It remains to be seen if he'll be accepted back by the team's fans.

"I completely understand if some fans don't like me," Herrera said before Tuesday's game against the Cardinals in St. Louis. "I get that is going to happen. Some fans will like me and some fans will not like me. All I can control right now is to keep working hard and to do my best to gain their trust back."

Herrera spoke with the aid of Diego Ettedgui, the team's Spanish-language interpreter, one day after playing in his first game in the majors in 23 months on Monday. He served an 85-game suspension in 2019 for violating Major League Baseball's policy against domestic abuse and did not appear in the majors in 2020.

"It feels really good to be back in the big leagues," the 29-year-old outfielder said. "That's what I worked for, so I thank God and the Phillies for the opportunity.

"And I have to thank my teammates, too, for opening their arms and welcoming me back to the team. But it's a work in progress. I'm still working to gain their trust back."

Herrera started in center field and batted seventh for the second night in a row Tuesday. 

He made a running catch at the wall to secure Monday night's 2-1 win in St. Louis.

In May 2019, Herrera was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, Melany Martinez-Angulo, in Atlantic City. The charges were eventually dropped.

The couple underwent significant counseling, and still does occasionally through Zoom, according to Herrera.

"Right now, my relationship with Melany is really good," Herrera said. "We're in a really good place. It's a very healthy relationship and every day, that's what we work on. Every day, what I learned from counseling, I apply with Melany. That's how we have a really good relationship because we apply what we learned in counseling with one another."

Herrera was asked what specifically he learned in counseling and how it changed him.

"There are a few things that I want to keep to myself," he said. "Some things that are private, but what I can share with you is that it has given me a sense of having way more responsibility, way more patience and how to be a better man.

"I honestly feel it has helped me a lot already because you go through things and the most important thing I have got in this is advice from different people. I think that has helped me grow to be not only a better player but also a better man."

Herrera is the fourth different centerfielder used by the Phillies this season. He will get the chance to play every day and potentially lock down the job that he'd previously held from the start of the 2015 season until May 26, 2019.

Herrera was an All-Star in 2016, but his play slipped drastically over the final four months of the 2018 season and the first two months of the 2019 season. He hit just .218 in the 136 games that preceded his suspension. Combine that slip in performance with an almost two-year absence and it's fair to wonder if Herrera can be an impact player for the Phillies going forward.

"If you think about it and take a look at my numbers prior to 2019, the three years prior, my numbers were pretty good, so I am really not worried about the type of year I had on the field in 2019," he said. "I think that can happen to any ballplayer. I keep working hard and I think I'm ready to show what's coming is the best that you're going to see out of me."

The Phillies are on the road through Thursday. They play at home Friday night.

Herrera would not say what type of reception he expects from the fans.

"I'm really going to try to be locked in to help the team win," he said. "That's going to be my main focus because that's what we're here for."

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