Herrera motivated to finish his season strong

Herrera motivated to finish his season strong

PHILADELPHIA -- It has been a long summer for Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera.

But with just 11 games remaining in the 2016 season he is as hot as anybody in baseball. He went 3-for-4 with one home run, three RBIs, three runs scored and two stolen bases in Tuesday night's 7-6 victory over the White Sox at Citizens Bank Park. Herrera is hitting .538 (15-for-28) with four doubles, two home runs, six RBIs and four stolen bases in his last seven games, raising his batting average from .275 to .288 and his OPS from .756 to .790.

"I'm working hard," Herrera said through the Phillies' interpreter. "I think I'm working really hard. Things are showing off."

Herrera's two-run homer

Herrera made the National League All-Star team in July, hitting .305 with 10 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 33 RBIs and an .834 OPS in 362 plate appearances through July 6. But he struggled in 219 plate appearances from July 7 through Sept. 11, hitting just .227 with six doubles, three triples, three home runs, nine RBIs and a .628 OPS.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin expressed his frustrations at times, benching Herrera on occasion and saying he could be moved to a corner outfield spot next season because his defense had slipped.

Herrera seemed to lose his focus on the field, and Mackanin wondered if the second-year player got complacent since earning his All-Star appearance, with the slump beginning just a couple days after he made the team.

Mackanin opined Sunday that perhaps Roman Quinn's arrival earlier this month -- he is a natural center fielder and would be likely to move to center if Herrera got moved -- has motivated Herrera.

Herrera agreed.

Herrera on his hot streak

"He motivates me, actually," he said, "because I want to show them that I am here. I am ready to do the work. Whenever they need me, I'm going to be here." 

But even with those midsummer struggles, Herrera remains arguably the team's most productive player. He leads the team with a 3.3 WAR, according to FanGraphs. It is 18th out of 55 qualified outfielders in baseball.

"I was a little disappointed because things were not working out the way I wanted them to work out," Herrera said about his two-month slump. "But thankfully now things are better for me. I'm putting the work in and the results are showing."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.