No charges filed in incident; DUI charge revealed

Updated: March 24, 2005, 10:45 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Baltimore Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson was charged in January with driving under the influence in Florida, authorities said Thursday.

 Sidney Ponson
Ponson

Earlier in the day, Ponson said he hurt his right hand Tuesday night fending off a fellow restaurant patron. Tuesday's incident marked the second time in three months that the right-hander was involved in an altercation.

The 28-year-old Ponson was arrested early on Jan. 21 on Interstate 95 in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Highway Patrol told The Associated Press Thursday night. The arrest was first reported on The (Baltimore) Sun's Web site on Thursday.

A trooper on routine patrol in Broward County in Florida observed a vehicle traveling behind his operated by Ponson traveling about 85 mph in a 65-mph zone, according to Lieut. Bill Ferrell.

The trooper, Greg Elias, slowed down, and Ponson's vehicle slowed to 25 mph, Ferrell said. The minimum speed on that part of I-95 is 40 mph.

Elias ordered the vehicle to stop and upon questioning the driver, said he smelled a strong odor of alcohol, Ferrell said. Ponson failed field sobriety tests, was arrested and taken to the Broward County jail for processing.

A court date has not been set.

Ponson's agent, Barry Praver, said late Thursday, "Because it's an ongoing matter, I cannot comment." And Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said, "We're still gathering information and looking into it."

Ponson spent 11 days in an Aruban jail following a Christmas Day fight at the beach. He apologized for his behavior and reached a settlement that involves community service and a charitable contribution.

But trouble found Ponson again Tuesday night. Ponson was eating dinner with his girlfriend when a man came up to him and essentially challenged him to a fight. After Ponson attempted to ignore the man, he began to push the pitcher in the chest. That's when Ponson moved to defend himself.

"It kept going on and on; he was nagging me forever," Ponson said Thursday. "It was the worst I'd ever heard. Then he touched me, and I had to draw a line. ... You clearly could see the guy was intoxicated. It was one of those things, you can't do nothing about it."

Ponson's hand was swollen Thursday, but the injury was not serious.

"I'm good -- no problems at all," he said. "I'm going to go out there and play catch and I'll throw my bullpen [Friday]."

Ponson said police responded to the scene at the restaurant and asked him if he wanted to press charges, but he declined. A spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said he could not comment on the matter because no charges were filed.

"I'm not going to lie. When I do something wrong, I'm the first one to admit it," Ponson said. "This time, I didn't do nothing wrong."

Praver said the pitcher was nearly done with dinner when a man approached Ponson and said, "So, you're the Aruban tough guy." Praver said Ponson attempted to ignore the man, but the verbal abuse soon developed into a physical confrontation.

"Sidney tried his best to defuse the situation by ignoring the intoxicated person, but when the guy became physical, there was a point where he had to get the guy off him."

Ponson declined to identify the restaurant and Praver said he didn't know its name.

Said Ponson: "Hopefully it won't happen again. It was one of those things, people are going to find out who I am, try to push my buttons. ... I held back as much as I could."

Another Orioles pitcher, Eric DuBose, was arrested Monday and charged with drunken driving after sheriff's deputies in Sarasota County, Florida, saw him swerving and nearly hitting a car.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press