ATLANTA — Odubel Herrera handed Rhys Hoskins his glove on Monday night and apologized. His miscue on the basepaths, Herrera told Hoskins, was a stupid mistake. He was sorry, he said. Herrera was embarrassed after he walked into a tag just a few minutes earlier when he opted against sliding into second base.
Hoskins accepted the apology. We've all been there, he said. And then the leader of this young Phillies team offered Herrera some advice.
"I just wanted to reiterate to him that us as a team and the staff want him to stay aggressive," Hoskins said before Tuesday night's game. "Obviously, he's been playing very aggressive. He's been playing really well. We want that to stay. I think a mental lapse like that might make him more timid so I just wanted to give him a little pat on the butt and pick him up from something that is quite is embarrassing on the field."
Herrera has been the team's best hitter for the last three seasons. He reached base in each of his 13 games entering Tuesday night. His batting average (.340) is the ninth-best mark in baseball and his on-base percentage (.397) is the third highest on the team. He leads the Phillies in WAR since joining them after being selected in the 2014 Rule 5 draft from Texas.
But Herrera's success is sometimes matched with slips like the ones he made Monday. He was tagged at second on what looked to be a double. Herrera said he didn't think he had to slide. He then didn't call for a fly ball when playing center field, which forced Aaron Altherr to make an off-balance catch and not fire his best throw to home to nab the runner tagging from third.
"I want to apologize to my teammates," Herrera said. "I should have made the play."
And he had the chance to apologize to Hoskins. Hoskins said he had intended to talk to Herrera before the center fielder said he was sorry. His intent, Hoskins said, was not negative. He didn't want Herrera to dwell on his mistake and carry it with him on the field. He didn't want Herrera to stop being himself.
He was not trying to be a leader, Hoskins said. It was just "a natural thing." But in that natural moment, he showed he's a leader.
"I very much appreciate the way Hoskins looks out for his teammates. He has from the moment I've met him," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's a great teammate and is great at seeing what's coming. I think it's great that he had a chat with Odubel."
Tommy Hunter pitched Tuesday night in a rehab assignment with high-A Clearwater but will likely require a few more rehab appearances before being activated from the disabled list. He pitched 1 1/3 innings, gave up a hit and a walk and had one strikeout. He threw 21 pitches, 15 impressively for strikes.
It was originally a possibility that Hunter, who is out with a hamstring injury suffered during spring training, could join the Phillies after just one rehab game.
"We want him to be strong and stretched out and ready to kick [butt]," Kapler said.