Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman James Loney spoke publicly on Friday night for the first time since news broke of a traffic accident last month in which he was briefly detained on suspicion of DUI, saying he wasn't under the influence of alcohol or any other drug when the 2009 Maserati he was driving reportedly collided with multiple cars on the Westbound 101 Freeway in Los Angeles.
"I decided to personally make a statement because nothing is more important to me than young fans, and I want them to hear this directly from me,'' Loney said in an exclusive telephone interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I would never do anything to jeopardize my career. I have been working really hard to help this team next year, and I am looking forward to a great season.''
The incident took place on Nov. 14.
Loney said he remembers colliding with the first car and hitting his head in the process -- he wasn't sure exactly what he hit his head on -- but he doesn't have a clear memory of what happened from that moment until he woke up several hours later in the hospital.
"After (hitting his head), everything became very fuzzy,'' Loney said. "I just felt, like, different. It was a different feeling.''
The Los Angeles Times quoted Judy Eckerling, whom the paper identified as the driver of one of the cars Loney hit, as saying Loney was non-responsive when she went to check on him immediately after the accident. Eckerling told the paper that when Loney woke up, he became agitated, started his engine and tried to drive away.
Loney said he doesn't remember any of that, nor does he remember being administered a breathalyzer test by police, during which he reportedly bit off the mouthpiece and spat the rest of the tube at the officer. Loney said he was placed in handcuffs before being taken to the hospital, but he believes that was only to restrain him because he was behaving so erratically.
Loney also said he was tested for several drugs at the hospital -- he read over the phone a long list from a document he was given when he left the hospital later that night that included cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, barbiturates, amphetamines and opiates -- and that those tests all came back negative.
Loney said that when he woke up from the hospital, he felt completely normal. By this time, he said, there no longer were any police officers at the hospital keeping him in custody.
"Once I woke up, they just released me,'' Loney said. "There was no questioning, there was no concern for me. I had somebody pick me up, and I went home. I was OK once I woke up. I was like, 'Whoa, that was a weird experience.' I talked to them like the person I am, my usual personality, and they were like, 'He's fine, he can go home.'
"I just want to make it clear that I would never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I was just in an accident.''
Loney said he now regrets the fact he didn't alert the Dodgers to the situation -- the incident was first reported by TMZ.com on Thursday, but a club source said team officials were made aware by a third party before that report surfaced.
"Definitely, I should have made them aware,'' Loney said. "I should have told them what happened. I should have done that. They have my back, and they know what type of person I am and what type of character I have, and they are here to help me. I am sorry if I offended anyone and grateful there were no serious injuries. I had no intention to hurt or offend anyone. There were no charges filed against me. I appreciate the police watching out for my welfare that night.''
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.