By DAVID MURPHY
A police spokesman backed Brett Myers' contention that he did not injure his eye at an altercation at a Jacksonville pub/restaurant early Saturday morning.
Sometime after 12:30 a.m. Saturday, St. Johns Sheriff's deputies responded to a call from Shannon's Irish Pub, south of the downtown area, where Myers and a small group of friends and family were listening to a band.
According to police, Myers and his wife Kim were involved in a verbal dispute that with other patrons after "inappropriate comments" were directed at Kim. But police said that several of Myers' friends quickly interceded and the Phillies pitcher was not directly involved in any physical altercation.
"When we got there we found that there had been a verbal altercation that turned somewhat physical," said St. Johns Sheriff Department spokesman Chuck Mulligan. "Deputies stated Myers was not directly involved in the physical side of it."
Myers missed his rehab start the following night with a swollen eye, which he claims occurred when he stumbled and face-planted while exiting a vehicle after he and his party arrived home early Saturday morning. Myers initially told the Phillies that he suffered the injury while playing catch with his four-year-old son, but later changed his story because he felt bad about lying. Myers told the Phillies' official web site that he initially lied about the circumstances because he was embarassed, but that alcohol was not a factor in his eventual mis-hap.
Yesterday evening, Myers denied through a Phillies spokesman that he was involved in any kind of altercation at Shannon's.
Six eye-witnesses told the Daily News said that they saw Myers, his wife, and a small group of friends drinking at the pub. It started as a normal Friday night, with Myers and his friends sitting at the bar listening to a folk/pop band play on stage. One fellow bar patron not associated with Myers' group said he briefly exchanged pleasantries with the righthander outside the bathroom sometime before 11 p.m.
"He appeared to be having a good time just hanging out with some buddies," the witness said. "He wasn't acting out or being obnoxious from what I could tell."
Sometime after 12:30 a.m., right around last call, a scuffle broke out near the stage where the band was playing, several witnesses who were present during the incident said. Myers was not involved in the original scuffle. But after the original altercation was quickly broken up, another confrontation occurred involving Myers wife, witnesses said. The sheriff's deputy who responded to the scene -- a band member called police after some equipment was damaged -- said that some "inappropriate comments" had been made toward Myers' wife, according to the police spokesman.
According to the sheriff's department spokesman, several of Myers' friends stepped forward to intercede. There was some pushing, but no punches were thrown. The sheriff's deputy reported that Myers' did not appear to have been struck in the face, nor did he appear to have struck any other patrons in the bar.
"Nobody alleged that he hit (anyone); nobody alleged that he was hit," the spokesman said. "Obviously there was a lot of alcohol involved, but how much and on whose part we do not know."
Myers later told the Phillies' official web site that he had only drank "two or three beers" during the night. A Shannon's employee who was the manager on duty that night said he personally served Myers three draft beers, but that he did not know if Myers had ordered drinks from any other of other bartenders or servers on duty.
Myers agent, Craig Landis, did not return a phone message left by the Daily News.
The sheriff's department spokesman said that none of the parties involved wanted to file a police report or press charges. Shannon's agreed to cover the damage caused to the band's equipment.
Myers, who has drawn high praise from the Phillies for his work ethic in recovering from mid-May hip surgery, was scheduled to throw one inning for Class A Clearwater Saturday night. Clearwater is about a four-hour drive from Jacksonville, where Myers grew up and still resides. Upon waking up with a swollen eye, Myers called the Phillies and told him he had been struck in the face with a baseball while playing catch with his son before later changing the story.
Myers was examined by an opthamologist in Clearwater on Sunday and was cleared to play catch at Bright House Field today. The Phillies said Sunday they are hopeful that Myers will be able to throw off a mound in the middle of this week.
Before the incident, Myers and the Phillies were optimistic that he would be ready to re-join the team as a reliever at some point in September. It is not clear how the recent incident affects those plans.