It came down to ABs, not PR.
If Phillies officials agreed that Odubel Herrera won the center-field job in spring training, ownership would have approved of putting him on the opening-day roster, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday. But although Herrera had some good moments (he tied Bryce Harper for the team lead with four Grapefruit League homers), he also exhibited all the inconsistency of a hitter who has barely played since his arrest on domestic assault charges on Memorial Day weekend in 2019.
“You’re talking about somebody who had 50 spring-training at-bats over a couple years,” Dombrowski said. “It’s going to be tough for him to be consistent at this point. For us, it was better for him to go out and play on an everyday basis and see what happens over the next time period.”
The decision to go with Adam Haseley over Herrera wasn’t made until Dombrowski met with general manager Sam Fuld, manager Joe Girardi, and the coaching staff after the last out of Monday’s spring-training finale in Clearwater, Fla. There wasn’t a consensus. Dombrowski had the final say.
“Some people felt one way,” Dombrowski said. “Other people thought the other.”
Ownership didn’t have a seat at the table Monday. Dombrowski said he emailed managing partner John Middleton and co-owners Jim and Pete Buck on Monday night to inform them of the decision.
But they weighed in several weeks ago, according to Dombrowski, before the Phillies invited Herrera to their spring-training minicamp.
“They were always consistent with me. ‘Pick the best team that you feel. It’s up to you. That’s your decision,’” Dombrowski said. “I think it really was performance-related at this point.”
Haseley essentially won the job with a strong week after returning from a groin injury that sidelined him for 19 days. He went 4-for-12 in four games, including two hits Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Dombrowski said it will be up to Girardi to dole out playing time in center field between Haseley and Roman Quinn. There are indications, however, that the Phillies will give Haseley more of a chance to play every day than he had last year. Dombrowski said Haseley “is ready to take that next step,” while describing Quinn as “somebody to come in and try to steal a base late in a game.”
“He has an element of his game that not many people do, which is base-stealing. And of course he’s versatile,” Dombrowski said. “As a 26th guy, platoon guy, we thought there was some real value as far as having Quinn on our club.”
And if the Phillies aren’t getting production out of center field, Herrera will be at the alternate site in Lehigh Valley. Dombrowski said he wouldn’t have reservations about calling him up.
“If he was performing up to capability,” Dombrowski said.
As demoted former top prospect Scott Kingery continues to work on leveling his swing in Lehigh Valley, the Phillies have designated minor-league hitting coordinator Jason Ochart as the primary person to oversee that process.
“We’ll give [Kingery] one voice on a consistent basis, hope the connection is there, and then hope we get the results we’re looking to have,” Dombrowski said. “We’re not interested that he has to hit a bunch of home runs. We’re more concerned with line drives. It’s one of those where we need to see that consistent improvement.”
Kingery worked closely with major-league hitting coach Joe Dillon in spring training. Dombrowski said Dillon will remain in “close contact” with Ochart and Kingery.
Dombrowski said it’s an “individual decision” for players and staff about whether to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccinations. In a joint memo Monday, MLB and the Players Association stated that teams that reach 85% vaccination of players and Tier 1 staff will be able to loosen COVID protocols. “I would point out, the players would probably point out, that if we get to 85%, their lives change dramatically as far as travel is concerned,” Dombrowski said. “But I would never force anybody to do that. That’s up to them.” ... The Phillies will finalize their opening-day roster Wednesday by making a move to open a 40-man roster spot for utility infielder Ronald Torreyes, who made the team out of camp.