Pitching coach pleads no contest in DUI case

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October

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey today pleaded no contest to charges of DUI and leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage in connection with a Sept. 30 accident.

Hickey, 46, of St. Cloud, Fla., had his license suspended for six months and was placed on probation, according to his attorney, Jack Helinger of St. Petersburg. He also was ordered to serve 50 hours of community service, attend DUI school and pay $645 in fines and court costs.

The judge withheld an adjudication of guilt on the charge of leaving the scene of an accident, Helinger said. He expected that a separate misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence would be dropped by the state. Court records show that count was closed administratively and folded into the DUI charge last week.

Hickey already has performed the community service, attended the school and paid the fines and court costs, Helinger said. He also has paid restitution.

Under those circumstances, Helinger said, it's not unusual for a first-time offender's probation to be terminated early once those conditions of the sentence have been met.

Hickey was charged with running his silver pickup truck into the back of another pickup truck being driven by a Rays batboy near Tropicana Field shortly after the team returned from its last game in Toronto. The bat boy, Matthew Felix Carlson, pulled over, but Hickey took off toward Interstate 275, police said. An undercover officer who saw the accident followed him and called to other police who pulled Hickey over.

Pulled over at Gandy Boulevard, Hickey tried to put his car in gear and drive away, police said. Officers took him from the car after he initially refused to get out. As he got out, he stumbled and fell, and then tensed his muscles and put his hands under his chest after falling down. He refused to remove his hands, but police eventually got his arms out and handcuffed him. He refused to take a Breathalyzer or blood test.

Hickey joined the Rays in November after being dismissed by Houston, where he was the major-league pitching coach for 2 1/2 seasons after 13 years as a minor league coach.

The Rays said in a statement, "While Jim Hickey's actions were inexcusable, we have been encouraged by the responsible manner in which he has conducted himself throughout the proceedings." Helinger said Hickey hopes to remain with the team, which has not made a decision.

"His family and baseball have been his life, so most certainly he wants to, and we hope that will be the case," Helinger said after the hearing.

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

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