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Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Shin-Soo Choo charged with DUI news services

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Shin-Soo Choo spent Tuesday afternoon talking to each of his teammates, one by one, to express how sorry he is for his off-field arrest on suspicion of drunken driving and the embarrassment it caused.

The Indians outfielder was arrested Monday after a breathalyzer test showed he had a blood-alcohol level of .201 -- more than double Ohio's legal limit of .08.

Choo I am hopeful that this incident will not be a distraction to the Indians organization while we remain focused on continuing to play winning baseball.

-- Indians star Shin-Soo Choo

"I don't want to make trouble on the team," Choo said in the dugout before the first-place Indians opened a three-game series against the Athletics. "Every person has to learn. I regret that this happened. ... I apologize."

After speaking to each player in the clubhouse, Choo also pulled the Indians into a tight huddle near their dugout before the team began warmups and batting practice.

Choo, the sixth major league player to be cited on a drunken driving charge this year, was arrested by police in Sheffield Lake, Ohio, after he failed a field sobriety test. An officer following Choo's white Cadillac SUV said he was driving erratically before he was stopped.

"I talked to him. He's human, just like every one of us," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He made a mistake. We all make mistakes. The main thing is he's learning from it. He's very remorseful. He's a guy I'm not going to look at any differently because of that. He's a great kid, very high character and we're moving on."

Choo on Tuesday also formally apologized to fans, the team, the club and his family "for the attention stemming from this matter."

"I am hopeful that this incident will not be a distraction to the Indians organization while we remain focused on continuing to play winning baseball," he said in a statement released by the Indians.

The 28-year-old South Korean traveled with the team and was in the starting lineup in right field and batting third against the A's, but finished 0 for 4 with a walk. Choo was booed by the small announced crowd of 10,135 in Oakland, but Cleveland (20-8) padded its major league-best record with its seventh straight win, a 4-1 decision.

Third baseman Jack Hannahan said Choo's approach with his teammates was sincere and appreciated.

"He's a great guy and a great teammate," Hannahan said. "Choo's a big leader on this team. He's tough as nails. He's being a man about it and accepting it. It'd be easy to kind of hide and let it blow over. He's not letting it be a distraction. Now it's behind us, we're moving forward and we're not going to let it affect the team."

Acta doesn't expect Choo to have any issues with his teammates because "they know what he's about."

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said the club spoke to Choo about the incident.

"The Indians organization takes these issues very seriously and we are disappointed in the matter," Antonetti said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation and we will not have any further comment at this time."

According to police, a patrolman first spoke to Choo at 2:25 a.m. He told the officer he was lost and needed directions to Avon Lake. Choo was allowed to continue driving, but was later pulled over when he twice crossed the double-yellow lines and drifted into a bike path. He told the officer his GPS had broken and he was unable to get directions home.

Choo's eyes were bloodshot and he smelled of "an alcoholic beverage," police said, and he was ordered out of the SUV.

Choo was unable to complete a heel-to-toe walking test, losing his balance and he failed two other sobriety tests, the report said. He was taken to the police station and was given the breathalyzer test. Choo was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence, having an excessive blood-alcohol level and a traffic violation.

He was released without bond and was driven home. While being escorted outside by an officer, Choo reportedly smashed his camera in the parking lot.

The case has been scheduled for Sheffield Lake Mayor's Court at 5 p.m. Thursday, according to David Graves, the city law director. Choo's attorney may enter a not guilty plea on his behalf without Choo present or may ask for a continuance, Graves said.

Acta said this is a bigger problem than just in baseball or professional sports.

"It's a society issue," the skipper said. "Everybody needs to be responsible for their own actions."

Arguably Cleveland's best all-around player, Choo joins teammate Austin Kearns, Seattle's Adam Kennedy, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, Oakland's Coco Crisp and Atlanta's Derek Lowe as players arrested since Jan. 1 on suspicion of DUI.

One of the game's most underrated players, Choo batted .300 last season. He was the only AL player to hit .300 with at least 20 homers and 20 steals. He entered Tuesday's game batting .250 with four homers and 15 RBIs for the surprising Indians, who are 19-8 and lead the AL Central by 4½ games.

Choo said he will do all he can to block out his mistake and stay focused on his job.

"It's OK. I'm good," he said. "This happened outside the team. I'm going to be the same guy."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.