PHILADELPHIA — Hand print markings on his girlfriend’s neck.
I can’t get past it.
That phrase chills me today as much as it chilled me in May of 2019. It comes from the police report concerning the domestic violence incident between burly Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera and his petite girlfriend, Melany Martinez-Angulo at an Atlantic City casino. Herrera somehow remains a Phillie. He’s at spring training right now. I want him gone. Why?
Try this. Put your hand around your own neck. Now squeeze. Harder. Hard enough to leave a mark.
Now close your eyes. Imagine that hand belongs to a man nicknamed “El Torito,” which means “Little Bull.” Except this bull isn’t little. He’s 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. And he’s angry.
I’ve covered dozens of domestic abuse incidents, from Rae Carruth to Ray Rice. They all are horrible. But for some reason, this one makes me madder. Maybe it’s because it’s closer to home. Maybe it’s because Herrera might wear a uniform that should be denied him. Martinez-Angulo didn’t pursue the assault charges, so prosecutors dropped the case. That’s a technicality. Justice can still be served.
The Phillies have a small window in the next few days in which they can plausibly cut Herrera. They have three candidates to play center field, Herrera’s position. He’s been a .200 hitter since late 2018. There is no arguing that he cannot be released on merit. It will cost almost $13 million to do so, assuming no team claims him off waivers. Between his character issues and the competence issues, none will.
You see, there is a chance that Herrera performs well enough to return as a Phillie, either during spring training or during the regular season. They cannot give him that chance. They are foolish to invite the protests that will inevitably come outside of Citizens Bank Park. They are foolish to invite the avalanche of controversy that will come if he wears those red pinstripes again.
I don’t want him out of baseball, per se. I really don’t care if he plays somewhere else. That might not make sense. I can’t help it. I just don’t want him in Philadelphia.
This is the sort of decision owners make. That’s John Middleton.