Was it more impressive, Joe Girardi asked himself Thursday afternoon, that Odubel Herrera homered or that he drove a full-count curveball for a single?

“I’m going to say hitting a 3-2 breaking ball the other way,” Girardi said after a 15-0 Grapefruit League win over the Yankees. “He had a great day today.”

Herrera had two hits, scored twice, and made a nice play in right field to trigger a relay that ended with a runner out at home. For the second time in three days, Herrera kept himself in the conversation for a spot on the Phillies’ opening-day roster.

But perhaps it was what Herrera did before the game that helped his chances even more. He gathered the entire Phillies’ clubhouse outside at their facility in Clearwater, Fla., to talk about his arrest in May 2019 for domestic violence charges and subsequent suspension.

Herrera made a similar appeal on Tuesday, but that group was missing most of the team’s leaders. The Phillies are giving Herrera a chance this month to be their starting centerfielder, and it’s hard to envision him winning that competition if there’s resistance from the clubhouse. Tuesday was a welcomed gesture. Thursday was more important.

“He apologized,” said Rhys Hoskins. “I know one of his big things is he’s trying as hard as he can to be the best teammate he can be. He conveyed that to us. He was sorry for putting the organization and his teammates in this line of fire and in this situation. Overall, I think it was positive. It’s a tough thing to do. With the magnitude of something like this, it’s always going to take time. I think he knows he has to earn some trust back. It’s just going to take some time.”

Tuesday’s game against Toronto was the first Herrera played with the Phillies since he was arrested at an Atlantic City casino and charged with simple assault and knowingly causing bodily injury. A police report said Herrera left “hand print markings” on his girlfriend’s neck and “small scratches’' on her arms. Six weeks later, Herrera’s girlfriend declined to press charges, and the case was dismissed.

Herrera attended counseling and donated to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. He was suspended by Major League Baseball for the remainder of the 2019 season, which barred the Phillies from further penalizing him. They still owe him the remainder of his $30.5 million salary and can’t release him unless it is for baseball reasons.

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Herrera said he spent two years re-earning his girlfriend’s trust and is “grateful because she forgave me.” Herrera said he wanted to have the same chance with his old teammates. Two speeches won’t solve everything, but it was a start.

“I think it’s really important,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I thought he did a really good job the other day. I thought he did a really good job today. I think he’s grown as a person. Time always tells, right? Time is the thing that will tell you how much a person has grown, but I think he has focused on being there for his teammates, being a better citizen, and learning from his mistakes.”

Herrera has played both of his games this spring in right field, but Girardi said Thursday that Herrera’s centerfield debut will come “shortly.” That is his path to Philadelphia. He’s competing this spring with Scott Kingery, Roman Quinn, and Adam Haseley for the starting job on April 1.

The three combined last season to hit .210 with a .582 OPS. In five seasons, Herrera hit .276 with a .756 OPS. It’s not out of reach to think Herrera, an All Star in 2016, can have the best month of the four.

If so, the Phillies will find themselves with a difficult decision. They will welcome fans back this season to Citizens Bank Park and are well aware of how Herrera will be received. If he makes the opening day roster, Herrera will have returned to the majors after being suspended for domestic violence without playing a game in the minor leagues.

Last year, the Phillies said Herrera would “earn” his way back to the majors. Perhaps six weeks in Florida is enough to earn it and enough time to re-establish himself in the clubhouse. But it likely won’t be enough for Herrera to win over the fans.

“The biggest thing for him is to be able to put his head down and go to work,” Hoskins said. “He stressed being a good teammate to us, and we stressed that to him. If he can focus on that, he’s going to be OK. Obviously, he knows what went on. The fans know what went on. I think he also understands that things like this take time. If he can continue to just put his head down, work as hard as he can, and be as good of a teammate as he can, over time I think things will shake out.”

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Herrera’s full-count single was impressive as it came off an experienced major-league pitcher and displayed a refined approach. His play in right field showed hustle not usually reserved for spring training as he slid into the wall before starting a relay throw. And his home run proved that Herrera’s bat flip is still strong.

There was little doubt Thursday that Herrera looked like a major-leaguer. But it was the way Herrera acted before the game that could determine if he can become one again.

“I think people in Philadelphia have seen the talent that he has,” Girardi said. “He’s been an All-Star. From everyone I talked to, from people who were here early in spring training, they talked about how he’s matured, how he’s in better shape than they’ve seen him in a long time. I think he understands, right? You get so many chances in life, and you have to make the most of them. I think that’s what he’s trying to do.”