Cleveland Indians 'disappointed' by Austin Kearns' DUI charge

Austin Kearns booking mug, Jessamine County Jail, February 12, 2011.
Austin Kearns booking mug, Jessamine County Jail, February 12, 2011.

NICHOLASVILLE — Lexington native and Cleveland Indians outfielder Austin Kearns is scheduled to appear in Jessamine District Court on March 10 after he was charged with driving under the influence last month.

The Indians were not aware of Kearns' arrest until it was reported Monday by The Jessamine Journal.

According to The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Web site, Kearns told reporters Tuesday that he will not have to leave the Indians' Goodyear training center in Arizona to attend the court date because "my attorney will go for me."

Kearns, 30, was stopped at 2:28 a.m. Feb. 12 by an off-duty Fayette County officer on Golf Club Drive in Nicholasville, according to an arrest report on file in Jessamine County.

Jessamine County Deputy Sheriff Todd Sponcil went to the scene, and the off-duty officer told Sponcil that Kearns had driven down an emergency lane without headlights and was weaving on the road, the report says.

Kearns told Sponcil that he had had a couple of bourbon and cokes at Harry's Bar in Lexington. Sponcil noted that Kearns "smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech."

When Sponcil asked Kearns to get out of the white 2007 Cadillac Escalade, Kearns "was very unsteady on his feet and leaned against the vehicle to steady himself," Sponcil wrote.

Kearns refused to take sobriety tests, the report says. He later refused to take a breath test to measure blood-alcohol content at the Jessamine County jail.

Kearns also is charged with failure to maintain required insurance. He was released from jail after posting 10 percent of a $1,000 bond.

In a statement released Tuesday, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said, "We are aware of Austin Kearns' arrest on Feb. 12 and are in the process of gathering facts and discussing the matter with him. The Indians organization takes these issues very seriously and is disappointed by the circumstances."

Cleveland Manager Manny Acta has a long-term relationship with Kearns after managing him in Washington.

"It's unfortunate," Acta said. "I have spent pretty much my whole career managing next to him. I can vouch for him. He's a quality human being, but he's also human."

Kearns is scheduled to be arraigned before District Judge Janet Booth. Court documents listed addresses for Kearns in Nicholasville and in Sarasota, Fla.

A former Lafayette High School star, Kearns rejoined the Indians in December after signing a one-year, $1.3 million free-agent contract.

He began 2010 with Cleveland before being traded to the Yankees on July 30. He batted a combined .263 with 10 homers and 49 RBI.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader