The St. Louis Cardinalsâ€™ third baseman David Freese agreed Monday to enter the club’s Employee Assistance Program after being arrested Saturday for driving while intoxicated. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that this is the second time in 27 months Freese has faced an alcohol-related charge.
“We take these matters very seriously and we continually reinforce with our players that they are to be accountable both on and off the field,” the Cardinals said in a statement issued Monday afternoon. “We apologize for the embarrassment that David’s actions have created.”
The Maryland Heights arrest report, released Monday, said police working a DWI enforcement patrol stopped Freese at the intersection of Lindbergh Boulevard and Page Avenue at 2:41 a.m. Saturday after noticing his car weaving. Freese was alone in his car and cooperated with police when stopped, according to the report. He took a field sobriety test and was arrested. The report did not disclose Freese’s blood-alcohol level except to say it exceeded Missouri’s legal limit of 0.08.
Police booked Freese into the Maryland Heights jail. “It’s unfortunate he’s a Cardinal, but he was treated just like anyone else,” said police spokesman Lt. Joe Delia.
General manager John Mozeliak, who voiced disappointment over the incident Sunday night, has spoken with Freese. Freese’s agent, Phil Tannenbaum, described Freese’s entry into the Cardinals’ EAP as “a mutual decision.”
Typically, the club keeps such measures confidential; however, the Cardinals noted EAP’s involvement via a statement released shortly after examining the arrest report.
Tannenbaum described the incident as more a lapse in judgment than indicative of a larger problem. “David is not an alcoholic by any stretch of the imagination. That’s probably the best answer I can give,” he said.
“David is cut from an excellent piece of cloth. David has never had a problem with alcohol. It’s something that’s very, very isolated.”
Despite these comments, this is the second time Freese has been arrested on alcohol-related charges. He was arrested Sept. 12, 2007, for public intoxication and resisting or obstructing a police officer in California. The misdemeanor charges stemmed from an incident at the Lake Elsinore Hotel and Casino, blocks away from where the San Diego Padres’ Class A team played its home games.
The Padres traded Freese to the Cardinals two months later for center fielder Jim Edmonds. At the time the Cardinals were unaware of Freese’s previous arrest or the case’s pending adjudication.
The public intoxication charge was eventually dropped, but Freese pleaded guilty in January 2008 in a Riverside County court to the obstruction charge and was sentenced to three years’ probation. It is not known whether Saturday’s arrest will impact his probation.
“There is no correlation between the two,” Tannenbaum said.
The Cardinals became aware of Freese’s previous arrest last February, after details surfaced about a January accident in which the Lafayette alum lost control of his car on an ice-slicked road near Ellisville. Freese sustained injuries to both feet and ankles when his car veered into a ditch. Though he made the Cardinals’ opening day roster, Freese eventually required surgery to repair his left foot and lost roughly half the season.
Police have not yet filed an incident report on last year’s accident.
The Cardinals have not disciplined Freese, according to Tannenbaum. “I believe Mo (Mozeliak) would have said something to me if that was going to happen,” he said.
Mozeliak declined to comment Monday. Freese has meanwhile retained St. Louis defense attorney Scott Rosenblum.
“He’s regretful that he put himself in a situation that has caused any embarrassment to the organization, the fans and his family,” Rosenblum said Monday. “He’s taking immediate steps to address any issues that caused him to place himself in this unfortunate situation.”
Freese’s arrest is the fourth known alcohol-related incident involving the Cardinals since March 2007. Most recently, the club released veteran Scott Spiezio in February 2008 after additional details surfaced about his December 2007 arrest in California that began with a hit-and-run.
Spiezio’s arrest occurred in the same year in which manager Tony La Russa was arrested for DUI during spring training and relief pitcher Josh Hancock was killed when he crashed his sports utility vehicle into a parked tow truck hours after the team played the Chicago Cubs.
Tannenbaum insisted that neither Freese’s arrest nor his participation in EAP should compromise his chance to contribute to the 2010 team. Freese has worked almost daily with Cardinals strength and conditioning coach Pete Prinzi, shedding about 10 pounds since the season ended.
“David already has accomplished a lot this winter working with Pete,” Tannenbaum said. “All of those remain in order. The legal process is going to run its course. David is still focused on the next 60 days.”