After news of the incident somehow remained silent for three weeks, the Indians announced today that Austin Kearns was arrested in Kentucky on February 12 and charged with a DUI.
Asked why he didn’t tell the Indians about the arrest and instead let them find out only after it was published in a Kentucky newspaper, Kearns said it was “the advice I was given.”
According to the police report Kearns was “flashing his headlights and weaving” and told the arresting officer that he’d consumed “a couple bourbon and cokes” at a local bar. He refused to take a field sobriety test and allegedly “advised that he played professional baseball and asked if I could cut him a break.”
He has a court date scheduled for March 10, but Kearns told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he won’t have to leave Indians camp to attend the hearing. Kearns declined to comment on the case, but indicated that this is the first time he’s been charged with a DUI.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉