Mike Schmidt questions Phillies player's ability to lead because of 'language barrier'

The Phillies are enduring a painful and forgettable rebuilding season, and perhaps that frustration has gotten to franchise legend and part-time broadcaster Mike Schmidt.

Schmidt, a Hall of Famer who spent his entire 18-season major-league career with the Phillies, had a few not-so-complimentary things and one controversial thing to say about Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera. After signing a five-year, $30.5 million extension this offseason, Herrera is struggling (.243/.283/.403). But thats not what concerns Schmidt most about the 25-year-old.

Speaking to WIP Radio in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Schmidt expressed his doubts that Herrera could become a team leader but not because of his on-field performance or even the flair with which he plays. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

My honest answer to that would be no, Schmidt said. First of all, its a language barrier. Because of that, I think he cant 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.

Schmidt then reiterated his doubts about Herrera, a Venezuela native, becoming a team leader. [He] just cant be because of the language barrier that kind of a player.

Not surprisingly, that opinion didnt sit well among those around the sport.

Its legitimate to ask whether Odubel Herrera is good enough for Phillies to build around. But the language barrier cited by Mike Schmidt

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 6, 2017

has no place in the discussion, and not simply because Herrera speaks English. Latin players are leaders on many clubs. A partial list:

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 6, 2017

Adrian Beltre. Carlos Beltran. Albert Pujols. Edinson Volquez. Robinson Cano. Jose Bautista. Miguel Cabrera. Sal Perez. Yadier Molina.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 6, 2017

Despite a three-game winning streak, the Phillies are an MLB-worst 20-35 and now have this distraction to deal with in the near future.


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