A Detroit Tiger who is paid to throw pitches could be in trouble in Toledo for throwing a punch.
Roman Colon, a Tigers pitcher who was playing for the Mud Hens while rehabilitating from neck surgery, was indicted by a Lucas County grand jury in the assault of a Hens teammate on June 12 at Fifth Third Field.
Mr. Colon, 27, is accused of punching pitcher Jason Karnuth, who, according to a report filed by Mr. Karnuth s wife with the Toledo Police Department, was trying to break up an argument between Mr. Colon and other Toledo players in the Mud Hens clubhouse.
The argument reportedly stemmed from a dispute over loud music on Mr. Colon s iPod before that night s game between the Hens and the Norfolk Tides.
According to the indictment, which was handed up Thursday afternoon, Mr. Colon, a right-handed pitcher, is charged with one count of felonious assault and faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.
An arraignment date before Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda has not been set.
Mr. Karnuth, 31, who is recovering from surgery performed last week to repair the multiple facial fractures he suffered in the altercation, declined to comment directly about the incident or the indictment.
He said prior to last night s home game against the Ottawa Lynx that his focus is not on what happened, but on what s ahead.
I can t sit back and ponder the negative that s just not good for me, Mr. Karnuth said. Do negative thoughts cross my mind? Yes.
But I m taking the approach that I m going to think positive. I ll deal with setbacks if and when they come, and hope that everything will progress the way we ve planned, he said.
Mr. Karnuth s agent, Mike Mosa, told the Detroit Free Press that a civil suit by Mr. Karnuth against Mr. Colon is being seriously considered.
The Tigers suspended Mr. Colon for seven days for his role in the incident. He returned to the Tigers training facility in Lakeland, Fla., to serve his suspension.
Tigers spokesman Brian Britten said Mr. Colon has since continued his rehab assignment with Erie, Pa., the Tigers Double-A affiliate. He pitched two scoreless innings last night in a victory at Bowie, Md.
He s going to continue to pitch with Erie, and we re going to let the legal proceedings play out, Mr. Britten said.
Mr. Colon could not be reached for comment last night. He was 0-1 with a 3.60 earned-run average in six relief appearances with the Hens, and was said by the organization to have suffered a left shoulder contusion from the clubhouse incident.
Mr. Karnuth wasn t so lucky.
Dr. Frank Barone performed surgery on Mr. Karnuth s face on June 19 at the Surgery Center at Regency Park in Toledo.
Mr. Karnuth said the four-hour procedure involved the insertion of three titanium plates, nine screws, and wires to keep the plates and bone fragments in place.
The pitcher s wife, Rachel Karnuth, said she filed the June 15 police report on behalf of her husband because he was recovering from extensive facial injuries.
The report said Mr. Colon and Hens pitcher Virgil Vasquez were arguing in the clubhouse before the Mud Hens game against Norfolk. Jordan Tata, another Hens pitcher, then began to argue with Mr. Colon, and a punch Mr. Colon threw connected with Mr. Karnuth s face while he was trying to break up the argument, the police report said.
Mr. Karnuth said his goal is to return to the mound by Aug. 1, about six weeks after the surgery. He said one of the obstacles on his road to recovery is blurriness in his right eye, which has yet to subside.
Mr. Karnuth had pitched in 22 games for the Hens before the incident, posting a 2-2 record with four saves and a 4.00 earned-run average.
I m happy and touched that people are concerned with my well-being, Mr. Karnuth said before yesterday s game. But the focus needs to be on the way these guys are playing.
I don t need to be the central focus the team has to be the focus, he said.
The Tigers declined to comment further on the situation, but they have changed their policy when it comes to music in their minor league affiliates clubhouses.
All Tigers minor leaguers must wear headsets if they want to listen to music before or after the games, a rule that was only in effect for the major league team before the Mud Hens clubhouse incident.
Blade staff writer Erica Blake contributed to this report.
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