Update: Schmidt has since called and apologized to Herrera:
Mike Schmidt called Odubel Herrera to apologize. Herrera said he accepted, told Schmidt not to worry about it, & wants it to blow over.— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) June 6, 2017
Statement from Mike Schmidt via the #Phillies regarding his comments about Odubel Herrera: pic.twitter.com/bL3OQH4iMW— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 6, 2017
Mike Schmidt is a Philadelphia Phillies legend for a reason. He spent all of his 19-year Hall-of-Fame career with the Phils, amassing three MVP Awards, as well as 10 Gold Gloves. He's one of the best third basemen of all time, no doubt.
As such, Schmidt is often asked about his take on the current state of the franchise. His latest opinion is a cause of some controversy. Here is what he had to say regarding Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera to the 94WIP Morning Show on Tuesday, per CBS Philly:
"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."
Besides the fact that Herrera's attempts to learn English have been chronicled, Schmidt's opinion feels outdated for a variety of reasons.
Is Herrera likely to be as proficient in English as he is Spanish? Maybe not, but it doesn't take an English professor to tell someone to run a ball out. Beyond that, it's not a given that Herrera would be surrounded by American players -- the player pool is increasingly foreign in nature -- or that he has to be a vocal leader in order to be worthy of "building around."
Peruse the rest of Schmidt's comments about Herrera and you'll find that Schmidt doesn't like how Herrera plays the game -- or, more specifically, he doesn't like that Herrera plays the game with exuberance and emotion, which is a common complaint lobbed at foreign-born players by old-timers who like to pretend the fellers in their day were always stoic and composed.
Schmidt did say Herrera could bat first or second on a championship-level team, though, so talent isn't the issue. Just everything else, apparently.