Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt is in a bit of hot water after a radio interview he gave on Tuesday in which he said the Philadelphia Phillies could not build around outfielder Odubel Herrera because of a “language barrier.”
Schmidt, appearing on SportsRadio 94 WIP, was asked about the Venezuelan-born Herrera and his ability to lead a team.
“First of all, it’s a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can’t 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 said.
Herrera has struggled this season — along with most of the Phillies — batting just .243 with 5 home runs and 22 RBI. In 2016, Herrera led the Phillies in hits (167) and steals (25) leading to the 25-year-old signing a five-year, $30.5 million extension in December.
Schmidt went on to say, “Now, I truly think he can hit second or first on a championship team. There’s no question about that.”
His comments immediately drew criticism, including from well-respected baseball writer Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
Herrera, prior to Tuesday’s game against Atlanta, was asked about Schmidt’s comments and told reporters that Schmidt called him personally to apologize.
Schmidt also issued a statement following the outcry, saying “I’m very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone. I assure everyone I had no intention of that.”
Here’s the full statement from Schmidt:
Angelo Cataldi, who hosts the morning show on WIP, said in no way were Schmidt’s comments racist:
Back in 2015, Schmidt called a throw home made by Phillies pitcher Luis Garcia “girlish”.
Philadelphia is a MLB-worst, 20-35.