Notes: Herrera's return; Miller's impact

February 17th, 2021

Joe Girardi understands that not everybody is OK with getting another opportunity with the Phillies.

But Herrera will get that second chance. At least, he will be in minicamp this spring in Clearwater, Fla.

Everything else is undetermined.

“This was collectively bargained between the Commissioner and the players,” Girardi said Wednesday afternoon from Clearwater, where Phillies pitchers and catchers held their first workout. “And he’s afforded a chance to prove to his teammates, to the fans of Philadelphia, the organization, that he is a changed person. The Collective Bargaining Agreement allows for redemption. He’s trying to earn a spot back. He’s also trying to earn the respect of a lot of people back because, obviously, it took a hit when, you know, the domestic violence came out. To me, it’s important that he proves himself to everyone.”

Herrera has not played for the Phillies since his May 2019 arrest in Atlantic City, N.J., on a charge of simple assault of his girlfriend. The charge was dismissed, but Major League Baseball suspended Herrera 85 games for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy. The organization removed Herrera from the 40-man roster in January 2020. After he completed counseling sessions in Philadelphia following his suspension and donated to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Phillies had Herrera in Minor League camp last spring.

Minicamp is this spring’s alternative to Minor League camp, which will not start until April 1 because of the pandemic.

Herrera is not working out with players in big league camp, but his presence in Clearwater allows the Phillies to summon him to play in Grapefruit League games, if needed. If he is asked to play, he could enter the competition for a job in center field.

It is the only non-pitching job available this spring, with Adam Haseley, Scott Kingery and Roman Quinn the other top candidates.

“Whenever you step on the baseball diamond, you have an opportunity to open someone's eyes,” Girardi said. “That's the way I look at it. Odúbel, we will pay attention to people in the minicamp and we will pay special attention to the guys in big league camp, but I'm going to watch everyone.”

Girardi said he has talked to players about Herrera’s potential return. He said not everybody is going to agree about it.

“I really haven’t gotten a sense that everyone is the same,” he said. “Some guys are going to be more forgiving. Some guys are going to be less forgiving. That’s just the world we live in. But we’re playing by the rules.”

Phillies ace Aaron Nola said he would welcome back Herrera, if he earned it.

“I believe in second chances,” Nola said. “We all know what Odúbel’s capable of on the field. A lot of us have been with him for a little while now. He’s a good player. ... But I know he's learned from his decisions and he's had to do what he's had to do.”

Miller time; Hoskins update
The Phillies announced Wednesday that they signed infielder Brad Miller to a one-year contract. He can play anywhere in the infield, but he will play more first base early, while Rhys Hoskins recovers from left elbow surgery in October.

Miller could play some left field, too.

“I’m definitely going to look at that,” Girardi said. “Because obviously he does a lot of damage against right-handed pitchers, and that might be a day that you give [Andrew McCutchen] a day off and get him in there.”

Girardi said Hoskins remains on schedule for Opening Day.

“We’re not holding him back,” Girardi said. “There are just hurdles, nothing major. But Rhys is doing all on-field activities with us. He hit today, took grounders, so we’re really encouraged with where he’s at. But he might be behind a few days, and that’s OK, but nothing major, because there’s plenty of games to catch up.”

Howard will compete
There has been some thought that right-hander Spencer Howard will be brought along slowly and possibly open the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley as the Phillies monitor his workload. Howard has endured right shoulder issues the past two years and has not pitched more than 112 innings in a season in his professional career.

Not so, Girardi said.

“If he was to start, we would anticipate that he would be a fourth or fifth starter,” he said. “You might see him during his progression in Spring Training -- he might not go the normal progression -- he might go a little slower. But, really, he’s in competition so we need to try and get him ready to see where he’s at.”

Extra bases
• A few players had visa issues and have not arrived in camp: Neftalí Feliz, Mauricio Llovera, Ranger Suárez, Francisco Morales and Christian Bethancourt.

• To make room for Miller on the 40-man roster, the Phillies placed right-hander Seranthony Domínguez on the 60-day injured list. He had Tommy John surgery in July. Girardi said there is a possibility that Domínguez will pitch this season, but “things would have to go right, with no setbacks.”