Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Phils hear from group on violence prevention

CLEARWATER, Fla. - It is not uncommon for teams to shut the clubhouse door and have early-morning meetings in spring training, but the Phillies are the only club in baseball to have had one of this kind.
Phillies players yesterday listened to a mandatory 90-minute presentation from a group called MVP - Mentors in Violence Prevention.

The group, affiliated with Northeastern University's Center for Sports and Society, specializes in the education and prevention of gender violence.

The subject took center stage in the Phillies' universe last summer when ace pitcher Brett Myers was charged with assaulting his wife, Kim, in Boston. The charges against Myers were dropped in October, but that has not removed the Phillies from dealing with the larger-scale issue.

Last summer, as they dealt with fallout from the Myers issue, the Phillies pledged support to the Pennsylvania Coalition of Domestic Violence. The Phils were participants and helped sponsor the organization's annual summit in Harrisburg in January. In addition, the club promised to formulate an organization-wide policy and protocol against domestic violence (which is still being worked on) and have experts on the matter address its players. The MVP group was recommended to the Phillies by the Pennsylvania coalition.

After meeting with the major-league players, the MVP group met with minor-leaguers yesterday.

"I thought it was great," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I enjoyed it. I think the players learned something. We all got something out of it. We learned something about the importance of communication."

Myers, 26, attended the meeting but was not immediately available for comment. He sat out three weeks last season and underwent counseling after his arrest. In January, Myers said the counseling was helpful and that "everything is great at home. We learned the key is communication."

Because of a privacy policy, Michael Stiles, the Phillies' senior vice president of administration and operations, could not talk specifically about Myers.

"It has been reported, accurately, that assistance was provided from our employee assistance program," Stiles said. "And it has been reported, accurately, that support has continued to be provided."