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Mike Schmidt: Odubel Herrera can’t lead due to ‘language barrier’

Philadelphia Phillies legend and current team broadcaster Mike Schmidt’s recent comments about Odubel Herrera very likely will generate some controversy.

During an appearance Tuesday on Philadelphia’s 94WIP, the Hall of Famer argued that a “language barrier” as one reason Herrera, a native of Venezuela, cannot fulfill all the duties expected out of a clubhouse leader when asked if the Phillies should build around the 25-year-old outfielder.

“My honest answer to that would be no because of a couple of things. First of all, it’s a language barrier,” Schmidt said, as transcribed by CBS Philly. “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.”

Schmidt was somewhat complimentary of the charismatic outfielder, who has struggled so far this season but has rebounded somewhat of late, saying “fans love him” and that he’s “learning to play a really good centerfield,” among other things.

“To answer your question, those are the reasons that I don’t think you can build a team around him,” Schmidt continued. “Now, I truly think he can hit second or first on a championship team. There’s no question about that.”

Schmidt’s “language barrier” comments obviously are the headline-grabbing aspect of his thoughts on Herrera, and rightfully so.

It does warrant noting, however, that, as noted by Hardball Talk, Herrera does routinely give interviews in English. So it’s unclear exactly what Schmidt is getting at with his comments. Is Schmidt suggesting that players who can’t count English as their first language cannot be team leaders?

Let’s hope not, because there obviously are countless examples of players like Herrera who completely disprove Schmidt’s dubious and arguably tone-deaf theory.