PEORIA, Ariz. - Two weeks into spring training and three big-league players have already been arrested by police for driving under the influence - a trend the Seattle Mariners are trying to fight.
With key chains.
“Two years ago, we came out with cards in English and Spanish giving the numbers of car services players could call for a ride home,” traveling secretary Ron Spellecy said.
“This year, one of the guys at the car service came up with the idea of giving everyone a key fob. I asked our merchandise people, and they said they could come up with one.”
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When Spellecy got them he began handing them out to everyone in camp.
“We gave them to executives, coaches, players, media – and we told them in our first meeting, ‘Be careful.’ ”
Pitcher David Aardsma said the issue of drinking and driving comes up in the clubhouse every time someone makes news for a DUI. Since camps opened, Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, Oakland’s Coco Crisp and Cleveland’s Austin Kearns have been pulled over.
In January, veteran infielder Adam Kennedy – freshly invited to camp by Seattle – was given a DUI citation near his San Diego home.
“The team is being proactive with this, and the key chain is right there when you reach for your keys to remind you – don’t drink and drive,” Aardsma said. “We take it very seriously.
“It’s not like guys are going out and getting hammered, but sometimes you can run into trouble going out to dinner and having a couple of drinks. If there’s any question, call for a car.”
Team president Chuck Armstrong said the idea was entirely Spellecy’s.
“I applaud it. It seems every day you read about some athlete somewhere having a DUI issue, and we’ve had three down here this spring, already. We’re very cognizant of the problem,” Armstrong said.
Can a key chain really make a difference?
“If you’re in that situation and want to do the right thing, the telephone number is right there on your key ring,” Aardsma said. “We all know drinking and driving is not OK. Any small reminder matters.”