Myers granted leave of absence

Myers granted leave of absence

BALTIMORE -- Brett Myers arrived in Baltimore on Monday night following one of the longest weekends of his life, and it had nothing to do with his pitching.

By Tuesday, the Phillies were without their best starting pitcher. The team's ace left the team to deal with personal issues stemming from his arrest for allegedly hitting his wife, Kim.

"I'm praying that he can get past this," said closer Tom Gordon. "I have faith that he will."

The Phillies said the right-hander voluntarily left the team and requested the arrangement in a Monday night meeting with manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee at the team hotel in Baltimore. Myers had met with general manager Pat Gillick, Manuel and team president David Montgomery in Boston.

He is expected to return in about 2 1/2 weeks, or just after the All-Star Break.

"My wife and children are very important to me," Myers said in a prepared statement, "and I am willing to do whatever is necessary to address any problems that might harm our marriage. I have asked the Phillies for some time off so that I can concentrate on this matter and make plans for whatever assistance is appropriate."

"I go along with Brett 100 percent," Manuel said. "I feel like this is something that needs to be taken care of. This is the best way for it to be handled."

Myers, 26, was arrested shortly after midnight ET on Friday after witnesses reported to police having seen him strike his wife and drag her by the hair down a Boston street. He spent a few hours in jail before Kim posted the $200 bail for his release, then made his scheduled start on Saturday afternoon against the Red Sox in Fenway Park -- a decision that has been soundly criticized by local media and women's groups.

Myers, who on advice of his attorney had not discussed the situation in the ensuing days, said in Tuesday's statement, "I have felt the need to make some comments about this situation and I do so now.

"First," he added, "while I dispute that the facts are as alleged, I recognize that my behavior was inappropriate, and for that I apologize. Second, I recognize that the incident created an embarrassing situation for many people, including my wife and family, my teammates, the Phillies organization, and fans, and I am very sorry for that."

He concluded by writing, "At this time, I do not intend to make any further public comments about this matter."

Montgomery indicated the Phillies will offer Myers any assistance he might need.

"The Phillies have made available appropriate professional employee assistance resources to help Brett and Kim Myers in these circumstances," Montgomery said.

In his statement, Montgomery also took the extraordinary step of defending the club against the criticism it received by not commenting earlier. The three days after Myers' start featured pointed remarks directed at the Phillies for their percieved indifference and condoning of domestice violence -- a stance they clearly don't take -- and threatened protests.

"After last Friday, the Phillies did not comment further on the events surrounding the arrest of Brett Myers out of respect for the Myers' privacy and because there is a criminal prosecution pending ... [a decision that] has been portrayed or interpreted as the Phillies indifference to problems of spousal abuse.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. We abhor such violence and recognize that it is a very serious problem affecting a substantial number of victims, particularly women, across the country.

"If we have been guilty of delay in expressing these sentiments, we are sorry. We have been engaged in a difficult balancing of concerns for the rights of our employee, the presumption of innocence, the rights of his spouse, and the legitimate public concern about allegations of spousal abuse by a Phillies ballplayer."

This wasn't enough for some groups.

In response, Julie Cousler Emig wrote a letter to Montgomery on behalf of the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Collaborative, one of four organizations in Philadelphia that fights domestic violence and supports victims.

"I think we'd like to see some further action taken by the Phillies," said Cousler Emig, vice president of Congreso de Latinos Unidos. "It seems like Brett Myers offered a convenient out for the team to deal with this in a minimal way. We would like to see, in the meantime, the Phillies take us on our offer to join us in an anti-domestic violence complaint. This is really a chance for them to right some wrongs."

Of course, Manuel would have liked for his ace to pitch on Thursday against the Orioles, then again on July 4 or 5 against the Padres. But Myers' personal well-being dwarfs short-term needs like winning a baseball game. The Phillies will play with 24 players, though they are exploring through the league if they can place him on the disabled list, similar to what they did last season with reliever Tim Worrell.

With Myers out, the Phillies must focus on playing better on the field. They entered play on Tuesday having lost 13 or their past 16, and five in row.

"Any time something like this happens, it's not a good time," pitcher Cory Lidle said. "It's unfortunate that it had to happen at all."

"I wish the best to Brett and his family," Gordon said. "Hopefully, everything will work out well. The most important thing is Brett and his family. The issue is how Brett and his family deal with this. It's a delicate situation, and it's tough on everybody."

Ken Mandel and Tom Singer are reporters for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.