SEATTLE — Odubel Herrera, who owned a 10-game hitting streak but not a spot in the Phillies' lineup Tuesday night, relaxed in a corner of the clubhouse at Safeco Field. Someone had turned the large TV, a few feet from Herrera's locker, to MLB Network. It flashed one of Herrera's recent base-running gaffes.
The Venezuelan outfielder pointed to the screen.
"A lack of concentration," Herrera said in English. "Sometimes I use too much aggressiveness, you know? I have to slow down and be smarter and just learn from things."
The Phillies have the worst record in baseball, and there is no player more maddening than Herrera. No one in the lineup has produced more this month — a .333 batting average and a .905 OPS — than Herrera. But Herrera's mistakes in the field and on the bases have multiplied. At times, he appears to lose focus from at-bat to at-bat.
And he is the only player the Phillies have financially committed to beyond the 2017 season. That offers a natural target, even if the Phillies do not view him as a cornerstone. They paid him $30.5 million over five years — not superstar money, but enough to suggest the front office counted on him to be at least a piece for the future.
Despite an uneven first half this season, he still carries that status.
It's why Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has exhausted tactics to motivate Herrera. Mackanin pulled Herrera from a game last May to send a message. He has benched him before. He has encouraged him to be aggressive. He moved him down, then up, and down in the batting order. He even fined Herrera last weekend, according to a source, because Herrera ignored a red light and tried to steal a base against Arizona. He was picked off.
The fine, more symbolic than anything, was for a few hundred dollars, according to a source. It will be donated to charity. CSNPhilly.com first reported on the action.
Mackanin declined to comment Tuesday about the situation. Herrera did.
"I understand what he said, I understand the fine," Herrera said. "I have to learn."
Herrera said he saw the no-steal sign. Then he noticed the Diamondbacks catcher put down a sign for a breaking ball.
"I just took a chance because I saw the catcher's sign and I thought I could make it," Herrera said. "But the pitcher didn't throw to home, he threw to first."
That, often, is the root of Herrera's mistakes. He is an emotional player, one who can use aggressiveness to both his advantage and detriment. The Phillies, ultimately, may have to accept some mistakes in exchange for a decent bat.
His teammates, specifically Freddy Galvis and Andres Blanco, have stressed to Herrera his need for improved focus. Galvis did not mention Herrera by name in his impassioned rant Monday, but the shortstop's implication was that certain players must apply adjustments.
"We try to stay together," Galvis said. "But sometimes it's not what you say or what you do here in the clubhouse. It's what you do on the field. We have a pretty good coaching staff. We have pretty good veteran guys, too. We can talk. We're always talking about everything. But we have to show it outside. It's not here in the clubhouse. You have to show it out there."
Herrera, since his debut as a Rule 5 pick at a new position, has generated a difference of opinion between scouts and analytics. Many scouts did not grade Herrera as a strong defender in his first two seasons. But advanced fielding metrics, including data from Major League Baseball's Statcast system, showed exceptional numbers.
He had improved in center for the first two months this season — one National League scout said he wrote a more favorable report in May than he had before. But over the weekend in Arizona, Herrera made numerous mistakes in the field.
The contract extension, Herrera insisted Tuesday, has not altered his outlook or focus.
"No, no, no. I'm not like that," he said. "I still want to play hard, still want to be aggressive. Sometimes you don't get the results that you are looking for."
He did not start Tuesday, Mackanin said, because it was a chance to rest Herrera against a tough lefthander in Seattle's James Paxton. But it was curious to see a team desperate for runs field a lineup without its hottest hitter.
"It just gives me the opportunity to get the other guys some at-bats," Mackanin said.
And, perhaps, a chance for Herrera to think.