Andrew McCutchen is entering his 13th major league season, and has a National League MVP and five All-Star Game appearances on his resume. So when the 34-year-old speaks, you listen closely, because he’s one of the most respected voices not only in the Philadelphia Phillies clubhouse, but in the sport as a whole.
McCutchen was teammates with Odúbel Herrera for parts of two months in 2019, prior to Herrera’s eventual Memorial Day arrest in Atlantic City following a domestic dispute with his girlfriend, Melany. Wednesday, McCutchen spoke on how he would feel about Herrera receiving a second chance with the Phillies, and potentially sharing an outfield with him again.
“You know what, I believe in anyone getting another chance,” McCutchen said. “No one is perfect in this world, he who is without sin cast the first stone. I’m here for him, we’ve all talked to him…he’s shown how much that he wants to be here and I think he’s showing it by the way he’s going about his business every day…the work that he’s putting in…the amount of work on the field, off the field. So, him having the chance, I’m sure he’s grateful for that. I’m sure he’s learned from what he’s done. And yeah, him getting an opportunity and a chance, it’s good for him.”
Did it take time for McCutchen to arrive at a place where he’s comfortable with the possibility of Herrera having another shot?
“It’s something that, of course, you don’t agree from something that happened and what he did, but like I said, he has to deal with that himself, personally. It’s not up to me to take something away from him or give him something – that’s not what I do. But what I can do is I might have some personal things that I may not like, but at the end of the day, he’s a human being and I’m going to treat him that way. I feel that for me personally, that’s the way that you deal with things. Like I said, he has his things to deal with, all I can do is move forward, forgive him for that and keep going.”
Now 29, Herrera hasn’t appeared in a major league game (or any regular season game) since a 9-1 loss in Milwaukee on May 26, 2019. He was hitting just .222 in his first 39 games in 2019, after a second-half swoon in 2018. Five seasons removed from being the Phillies lone All-Star Game representative, there are legitimate questions to be asked about what Herrera is as a player at this stage.
Adam Haseley’s status for opening day is very much uncertain, but Herrera still finds himself in competition with Scott Kingery, Roman Quinn and a very-hot Mickey Moniak for time in center field. Of those five names, Herrera is the only one not on the 40-man roster, which certainly works against him.
Twice last week, Herrera apologized to different segments of the Phillies camp, including the full squad on March 4. That same day he homered, part of the four hits that he has in his first 12 at-bats this spring.
The biggest inroads that Herrera has to make, though, continue to be on a personal level with some of his teammates. Aaron Nola voiced support at the outset of spring training for Herrera receiving a second chance. Rhys Hoskins admitted last week that “it will take time.” Bryce Harper had a strong take on the situation as well.
“I don’t agree with what he did – I don’t condone it,” Harper said last Friday. “[It’s] Something that just can’t happen …But I’m not the maker. I’m not the person who can make the decision to forgive him or not forgive him. I’m not God. I’m going to let Odúbel do his thing.”
As Joe Girardi said at the beginning of spring training, there’s probably never going to be a consensus – among players, fans, media, etc. – on Herrera receiving a second chance.
Herrera has asked for a chance to proved that he’s changed, and for at least a few more weeks in Clearwater, he’ll get that opportunity.
“I just want to say that about what I did in 2019, I feel sorry because I made a big mistake,” Herrera said. “I know some people are not going to forgive me, and I understand that. But I have spent the last two years earning [his girlfriend] Melany’s trust back and I am grateful because she forgave me. Now, I would like to have the same opportunity with my teammates, our fans and the Phillies family. Thank you.”
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