Sexson early to Mariners camp, apologizes for DUI

Updated: February 19, 2005, 6:33 PM ET
Associated Press

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Slugger Richie Sexson, one of Seattle's big offseason pickups, checked into Mariners camp two days early Saturday, knowing he'd have to explain a Feb. 5 drunken driving citation.

Richie Sexson
First Base
Seattle Mariners
23 9 23 20 0 .233

"It's an unfortunate situation," said Sexson, who has pleaded not guilty. "I'm disappointed, No. 1 in myself. You want to apologize to every fan you've ever had, every fan you're going to have or fans you're going to lose."

Sexson, who signed a four-year, $50 million contract, was stopped a quarter-mile from his home near Vancouver, Wash. That day, he had been at his brother's home, where he had two beers with a chicken dinner.

Sexson said he never felt impaired.

"As big a guy as I am, I thought, 'No way,"' the 6-foot-8 Sexson said.

Returning home, however, a Clark County sheriff's deputy stopped Sexson after estimating his speed at 50 mph in a 35-mph zone, though Sexson ultimately wasn't cited for speeding.

The deputy smelled a "strong odor of intoxicants," according to a sheriff's report, and noticed empty beer bottles in the vehicle. Sexson said the bottles were left a week earlier after another visit to his brother's home.

"I didn't want to leave them in his garage," Sexson explained. "I set them in the back seat and didn't think a thing about them. A week later, I'd completely forgotten about them."

He received a citation for suspicion of DUI, Sexson said, because he refused to take a portable breath test at the scene. Sexson recalled being angry. Otherwise, he would have agreed to the field test.

"If you refuse a Breathalyzer [test] in the field, automatically they can charge you with driving under the influence," Sexson said. "In hindsight, I would have blown right then, blown under the limit and driven home."

Sexson said he was transported to the sheriff's office, taking two breath tests about 45 minutes later. Both tests registered under Washington's legal threshold for intoxication.

"It's tough, but it's one of life's twists, things they throw at you to see what kind of a man, what kind of a person you are," he said, adding that he believes the case will be resolved soon. "Hopefully, I'll bounce back and put it behind me."

On the baseball side, Sexson can't wait to get on the field.

A career .271 hitter with 200 home runs, the 30-year-old first baseman partially tore the labrum in his left shoulder last season with Arizona and didn't play after May. He hit .233 with nine homers and 23 RBIs.

"It feels great. I'm ready to go," Sexson said. "I feel really good. I'm probably in the best shape I've been in my whole career."

He's thrilled to be with the Mariners, the team he followed while growing up just north of Portland, Ore.

Sexson's signing, along with third baseman Adrian Beltre, should help Seattle recover from a season where the Mariners lost 99 games and ranked last in the American League with 136 homers and 698 runs.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't know we were going to get Adrian before I signed," he said. "There were things that led me to sign, not only the fact that I live in the state. The team's going to be pretty darn good if everything pans out."

He'll be reunited in Seattle with Mike Hargrove, the first-year manager who was in Cleveland when Sexson reached the majors.

"He's a strong man," Hargrove said. "He was strong when I had him in Cleveland, but he was a skinny, big kid. He's really developed in his chest. I can remember in organizational meetings, the whole idea was that everybody couldn't wait to see Richie with about 30 more pounds."

Though he got a big contract, Sexson said he's most happy to be living closer to his family in Washington. Asked to name the first thing he did after signing, Sexson struggled to remember.

"Nothing. Fishing, probably," he said. "I had money before. Money's never really been a big issue for me."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press