Three Indians minor-league players have been charged with felonious assault following an altercation at a downtown Akron nightclub that left a man with rib and lung injuries, police said.
First baseman Beau Mills, outfielder Jerad Head and pitcher Josh Tomlin are each charged with felonious assault after an incident near closing time June 3 at Whiskey Dick's on West Exchange Street.
Mills and Head play for the Aeros and Tomlin plays for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, the Indians top minor-league club.
Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said Theodore Zeman III, 25, of Seven Hills, spent at least two days in the hospital after sustaining a punctured lung and rib fractures in the brawl.
Zeman did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The criminal case was filed Tuesday in Akron Municipal Court. Mills and Head appeared in court Thursday. Their attorney said the men have pleaded not guilty.
A warrant is listed in court records for Tomlin. A message was left at a phone number listed for Tomlin in the police report.
Edwards said detectives expect Tomlin to surrender to authorities shortly. He pitched six innings in Rochester, N.Y. on Wednesday, picking up the win in an 11-2 Columbus win over the Red Wings.
Akron defense attorney Lawrence Whitney of the law firm Burdon & Merlitti represents Mills and Head. He said his staff is conducting its own investigation into the incident, but he maintains the ballplayers did nothing criminal.
‘‘I can't really say what they said, but they deny they assaulted him,’’ Whitney said. He declined further comment.
According to the police report, Zeman told police that a group of ballplayers were taunting him while ‘‘he was at the bar, enjoying himself, and helping out a little bit.’’
The players teased him, telling him he was soft, according to the report.
‘‘[Zeman] said he put up his hand as if to get the men to stop. He says one of the men pushed his hand away and the next thing he knew, he was being assaulted by all of the men,’’ an officer wrote in his report.
The fight broke out at about 2:20 a.m. The Aeros played Erie earlier that night, winning 5-1 at Canal Park. Mills played first base, going 1-for-4. Head did not play.
Aeros outfielder John Drennan was with the three other players at the bar, police said. He was not charged.
Zeman's girlfriend, Ashley J. Kaltwasser, 21, of Akron, told police that ‘‘5 or 6 people’’ that she believed to be ballplayers taunted Zeman by suggesting he uses steroids ‘‘and that he had nothing to offer his girlfriend,’’ the report continues.
She claims Zeman was trying to calm the conversation when he was pushed away, igniting the fight. She told police that Zeman was hit and kicked in the ribs.
A witness flagged down officers who found Zeman ‘‘moaning in pain’’ and having ‘‘vomited several times.’’
A Whiskey Dick's manager declined comment Thursday, saying he was unaware that a fight had occurred at the club.
The report that night said a preliminary examination of Zeman by an Akron General Medical Center physician revealed ‘‘no serious injuries and no broken ribs or other bones.’’
Afterward, detectives continued to investigate the incident which led to the felonious assault charges filed by police. The case has yet to be reviewed by a Summit County grand jury for consideration of formal charges.
A felonious assault conviction carries penalties ranging from probation to eight years in prison.
‘‘We are aware of the incident,’’ said Indians Assistant General Manager Chris Antonetti. ‘‘We will allow the legal process to take its course. We'll have no comment until the legal process is complete.’’
Asked if the team had instituted discipline of its own, he said, ‘‘No comment on that.’’
Antonetti said the fact that Tomlin was with the Aeros players is not unusual. ‘‘It's not uncommon for guys to get together when the affiliates are in close proximity.’’
He also said the Indians have not provided the players with attorneys.
‘‘At this time, we regard this as a personal matter.’’
Mills, a left-handed hitting first baseman, was the Indians first round (No. 13 overall) pick in the June 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Lewis-Clark State College (Lewiston, Idaho). Mills, 23, is batting .205 in 54 games for the Aeros this season with three home runs and 32 RBI. He was placed on the minor-league disabled list June 10 for a strained rib cage.
Mills' father is Brad Mills, a former major-league player and current manager of the Houston Astros.
Head, a right-handed hitting outfielder, was signed by the Indians as a nondrafted free agent out of Washburn University (Kansas) in August 2005. Head, 27, is batting .232 in 23 games for the Aeros this season with four home runs and 11 RBI. He played six games for the Clippers earlier in the season.
Tomlin is a right-handed starting pitcher who also played for the Aeros in the past. Tomlin, 25, has a 7-2 record this season for the Clippers with a 2.70 ERA in 73i innings. The Indians selected Tomlin in the 19th round (No. 581 overall) of the June 2006 draft out of Texas Tech University.