Braves OF Ozuna facing more legal woes following DUI arrest

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ATLANTA – Atlanta Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol early Friday near Atlanta.

It was the second arrest in as many years for Ozuna. He was arrested on May 29, 2021, on charges of aggravated assault by strangulation and battery after police officers said they witnessed him attacking his wife. Those charges were dropped after he completed a pretrial diversion program.

Now Ozuna is facing more legal problems after he was arrested by a Norcross Police officer in metro Atlanta. He was booked into the Gwinnett County jail about 4:30 a.m. Friday. He was charged with DUI and failure to maintain lane and was released on $1,830 bond.

“The Atlanta Braves are aware of Marcell Ozuna’s arrest this morning and are still gathering all the facts pertaining to the incident,” the team said in a statement. “Our organization takes these matters very seriously and are obviously disappointed by the situation. As this is a legal matter, we will have no further comment until the process is complete.”

Ozuna’s status for Friday night’s game against the Houston Astros was not known.

Ozuna, 31, is in his third season in Atlanta. He is in the second year of a $65 million, four-year contract.

Ozuna hit .338 and led the National League with 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 2020. He has hit below .215 for two consecutive seasons, and this season’s poor production led to reduced playing time even before his new legal problems.

Ozuna is hitting .214 with 20 homers and 46 RBIs this season.

Following the 2021 arrest, Ozuna was placed on administrative leave during a Major League Baseball investigation and missed Atlanta’s World Series championship run.

MLB suspended Ozuna for 20 games under its domestic violence policy in November, allowing him to return for the start of this season.

Ozuna apologized to his teammates and fans at spring training in March.

“My fans, I’m going to give you the best and I’m going to be a better person, and I’m sorry,” Ozuna said at the start of spring training.

Ozuna completed a pretrial diversion program under conditions provided by the Fulton County District Attorney’s office in order to have the previous charges dropped. The program included 3-6 months of supervision.

He also was ordered to complete a 24-week family violence intervention program, at least 200 hours of community service and an anger management course.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.