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Pitching coach charged with DUI



The pitching coach of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays was arrested by St. Petersburg police late Sunday and charged with DUI, hit and run and resisting arrest without violence.

Police said an undercover officer saw James J. Hickey, 45, run his silver pickup into the back of a green pickup at First Avenue and 16th Street S, in front of Tropicana Field. The green pickup was driven by Devil Rays batboy Matthew Felix Carlson, and both men were stopped at a traffic light, said St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman George Kajtsa.

Carlson pulled his 1998 Chevrolet S10 pickup truck over to the side of the road, but Hickey took off toward Interstate 275. The officer, who was not in a marked car or uniform, followed him up Interstate 275 and communicated with other officers, who stopped him north of Gandy Boulevard.

"I made a horrible mistake," Hickey said in a phone interview. "It was a total lack of judgment. I apologize for that. It's inexcusable. I take total responsibility for my actions and I'll face up to it and make it right."

Hickey would not say where he was though he did say he wasn't with anyone from the team. He said he was not in a fight.

According to a St. Petersburg Police Department affidavit, Hickey pulled over for Police Officer Steven W. Sprout at Gandy Boulevard but then tried to put the car in gear and drive away. Hickey refused to get out of the car, Kajtsa said, and was brought out by officers. He then stumbled when he got out of the car and fell to the ground.

Police said Hickey tensed his muscles and put his hands under his chest after falling down on his face. He refused to remove his hands, but police eventually managed to get his arms out and handcuff him.

Hickey had a strong odor of alcohol, his speech was slurred and he swayed and appeared disoriented, the police report said. He refused to take a breathalyzer or blood test.

Hickey's booking photo shows a large scrape or bruise on his right cheek and a cut over his eye. He was booked at the Pinellas County Jail at 3:29 a.m. and was released on bond at 7:58 a.m.

The Rays finished their final game of the 2007 regular season Sunday afternoon in Toronto.

Devil Rays Executive Vice President Andrew Friedman said in a statement: "Jim was very apologetic and ashamed for the lack of discretion leading to this situation.  The Devil Rays organization is very disappointed in the poor personal behavior which precipitated this incident.  We expect Jim will face this incident honestly and appropriately.''

As for whether he cost himself his job, Hickey said:  "I certainly put my job in jeopardy. They have every right to go in any direction they want to."

Times staff writers Leonora LaPeter Anton, Marc Topkin, Abhi Raghunathan and Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:32am]


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