03/31/08 8:53 PM ET
Braves sign Spiezio to Minors deal
Troubles aside, veteran can fulfill bench role if he makes club
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
During Monday night's home opener against the Pirates, the Braves announced that they'd signed Spiezio to a Minor League deal. He was released by the Cardinals on Feb. 27 after being charged with six counts that included driving under the influence, hit and run, assault and battery.
After meeting with Spiezio on Monday afternoon, Braves general manager Frank Wren and manager Bobby Cox gained a sense that the veteran player had already turned his life around.
"We had a good feeling after the meeting that he had taken responsibility for what had happened over this last year," Wren said. "He has been in a [substance-abuse] program, and I think there has been a change in personality and attitude. He was sincerely sorry with everything that has happened, and I think he's committed to making amends and making a change."
The Braves have been looking for a player to provide power off their bench, and they believe Spiezio could fit this role. He will work out with Class A Rome on Tuesday and then report to Triple-A Richmond on Wednesday.
If Spiezio performs well in Richmond, the Braves could promote him to the Majors sometime within the next few weeks.
Spiezio, whose versatility allows him to play second base, third base and both corner outfield positions, hit .269 in 82 games with the Cardinals last year. His season was cut short when he sought treatment for substance-abuse issues.
"I am very embarrassed and sorry for what happened in the offseason," Spiezio said in a Braves press release. "I have taken steps, including treatment, to ensure it will not happen again. I have taken full responsibility, and I am making restitution to the people I have hurt. I am very appreciative of the second chance I've been given.
"The Braves have made no promises to me, except to give me the opportunity to prove that I have made amends and that I can still perform at this level."
Financial details of Spiezio's contract weren't provided. Because it's a Minor League deal, there are no financial guarantees.
Spiezio had been scheduled for an arraignment in California's Orange County Superior Court on April 7, but Wren said that arraignment has been canceled.
The charges stemmed from a Dec. 30 car crash that occurred near Spiezio's Irvine, Calif., residence. If convicted on all charges, Spiezio could face two years in prison.
According to a release issued by the Orange County district attorney's office, Spiezio attempted to drive home after having "several vodka drinks" at a bar in Newport Beach, Calif. The release alleges that Spiezio sped, veered across several lanes and through oncoming traffic before driving over a curb and hitting a fence.
Further, the release stated that Spiezio is accused of fleeing the wreck on foot, running to his condominium complex in Irvine and visiting a friend's home. From there, per the statement, Spiezio vomited in his friend's room, grew angry when confronted about doing so and attacked the friend.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Matthew Leach contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.