Phillies like their wild card Myers

By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
Published March 7, 2008

CLEARWATER - The adage goes, "You are what you wear."

In the case of the Phillies' free spirit, starting pitcher Brett Myers, the phrase could fit.

Myers, a heavy metal fan, strolled into the clubhouse Thursday with a new tattoo covering his calf - flames surrounding a guitar that was coming out of a baseball. The 27-year-old right-hander wore a T-shirt that read, "Mess with me, you mess with the whole trailer park," and had a replica boxing belt resting on his left shoulder that read, "Heavyweight Bowling Champion."

"Myers is wild," slugger Ryan Howard said. "Off the wall."

But the belt was more than bravado. Howard said that on Wednesday night Myers' near-perfect 279 at a local bowling alley carried him and three other teammates to a round-robin tournament title.

"I was doing enough to keep us afloat, but we let Myers do his thing and let him carry us to victory," said Howard, who rolled a 177. "He's our MVP."

Fittingly, on a team with the last two NL MVPs (Howard and shortstop Jimmy Rollins), it will be Myers who will also have a huge role in the Phillies' pennant hopes. The Jacksonville native is scheduled to make his second straight opening day start after beefing up the bullpen last season, when the club made its first playoff appearance in 14 years.

Myers, a five-year veteran, is no stranger to headlines. In June 2006 he was charged with assaulting his wife (he pleaded not guilty and charges were dismissed). This spring, he made news with his now-infamous prank on teammate Kyle Kendrick, convincing him he had been traded to Japan.

"You never know what's going to happen with Myers," Howard said. "But you know when he's on the mound, he's going to be competing."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.