PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Mike Schmidt is apologizing after creating a firestorm for saying you can't build a team around Odubel Herrera due to his "language barrier."
Schmidt made the comment on Tuesday's 94WIP Morning Show.
"My honest answer to that would be no because of a couple of things,." Schmidt said. "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.' Just can't be -- because of the language barrier -- that kind of a player."
After hitting .286/.361/.420 in 2016, Herrera is hitting just .234/.276/.373 in 52 games this season.
"Odubel can be -- you see what he's doing the last three days [8-13, 6 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBIs] and we saw the inconsistency that dropped his batting average all the way down to the low .200's prior to the last three games, and that's really the first time we've seen that kind of inconsistency from him," Schmidt said. "However, he's more of a sort of, play the game, allow his exuberance for the game to kind of spread around the team. I think the fans love him. He's not afraid to do things that sort of irk the other team if you will, and you know what that is. I probably would hate him if I played against him because of his antics on the field, but he's not afraid. He's not afraid to do that. He's learning to play a really good centerfield. They haven't figured out where he needs to hit in the batting order yet.
"To answer your question, those are the reasons that I don't think you can build a team around him. Now, I truly think he can hit second or first on a championship team. There's no question about that."
Schmidt issues an apology Tuesday afternoon.
"It's been made known to me that my answer on a radio interview this morning to the question, 'Can the Phillies build a team around Odubel Herrera,' was disrespectful to Herrera and Latin players in general. I'm very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone," Schmidt said in a statement to CSN Philly. "I assure everyone I had no intention of that. Odubel is a dynamo on the field, and as he becomes more comfortable with the language, his leadership skills will improve, and no doubt he will be a centerpiece in the Phillies future."
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