Odubel Herrera gives Phillies a lift in dreary times

Odubel Herrera gives Phillies a lift in dreary times
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The initial week of spring training has been as dreary as it could possibly be for the Phillies. A day after claiming that his left elbow was fine, Cliff Lee admitted that he is in pain and that surgery is a possibility, which could end his season and possibly his career.

There has been a power outage. No Phillie, save non-roster invitees has gone yard in a week’s worth of Grapefruit League games. There have been few signs of Chase Utley, who is trying to get ready for the daily grind of a regular season.

However, there is a silver lining in the cloud hanging over Bright House Network field. Odubel Herrera, a Rule 5 pick from the Texas Rangers, has been the most impressive player in camp. Herrera, 23, lined three hard singles, stole three bases and scored a pair of runs against the Yankees during the second game of spring training and has played hard every time he’s been out on the field. Herrera must stay with the Phillies the entire season or be offered back to Texas.

“Herrera is not going back to the Rangers,” a NL scout said. “This kid isn’t just going to make this team but I predict he will start and leadoff for the Phillies on opening day. “I told Ruben (Amaro) that the Phillies did a great job picking him up. I watched him during the off-season down there (in Venezuela). He looked great there.”

The 5-10, 175 pound versatile athlete was the batting champion (.372) and MVP of the Venezuelan Winter League. Herrera, a converted middle infielder, can play all three outfield spots. He likes what he sees of the Phillies.

“I love it here,” Herrera said through a translator. “I just want to do all that I can to make the team. I think there is a chance for me here.”

Herrera offers welcome versatility, speed and good baseball smarts.”He gives you a lot,” the NL scout said. “This is a kid you have to keep your eye on. He also gives the Phillies needed speed in the outfield. We’ll see what happens but I would be surprised if Herrera doesn’t earn the starting left field job. He’s going to be a good one. I think the Rangers are going to regret not protecting him and the Phillies will have some productive years out of him.”

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