The Atlanta Braves suffered a huge blow to their offense on Friday when they were forced to place Marcell Ozuna on the 10-day injured list with two fractured fingers in his left hand. But a day later, the team received much more troubling news about the power-hitting outfielder.
Ozuna was arrested Saturday and charged with felony assault after police officers in Sandy Springs, Ga. witnessed him choke his wife and slam her against a wall. In addition to putting Ozuna’s 2021 season with the Braves at risk, the incident raises questions about the two-time All-Star’s murky future in the MLB.
Marcell Ozuna arrested and charged with felony assault
At 12:26 p.m. ET on Saturday, police officers in Sandy Springs responded to a 911 call regarding an incident at Ozuna’s home. When the officers arrived on the scene, they heard screaming coming from inside the house, and the front door was wide open, per the department’s release of the incident.
According to the release, the officers “entered the residence through the front door and witnessed the suspect grabbing the victim by the neck and throwing her against a wall… In addition to the strangulation attempts, the suspect also struck the victim with his arm which has a cast from a previous injury.” Ozuna’s wife emerged from the incident with visible injuries, but she wasn’t sent to a hospital.
Police were then able to take Ozuna into custody. He was later charged with aggravated assault by strangulation, which is a felony that carries a prison sentence of three to 20 years, and misdemeanor battery.
Braves release statement about the arrest
Hours after the news of Ozuna’s arrest surfaced, the Braves released a statement via the team’s official Twitter account. The Braves had the opportunity to immediately condemn Ozuna’s actions and take swift action against domestic violence, but they deferred to the MLB’s policy instead.
“We learned of Marcell Ozuna’s arrest earlier this evening and immediately informed the Commissioner’s Office. The Braves fully support Major League Baseball’s policy on domestic violence which stresses to the fullest that our society cannot and will not tolerate domestic violence in any form. Until the investigation is completed, we will have no further comment.”
As weak as the team’s statement was, manager Brian Snitker’s was worse.
“The Braves have made a statement. I stand by that and that’s all I know,” Snitker said.
What does Ozuna’s MLB future hold?
Ozuna might be fearing for his future in the MLB right about now, but the league’s history of dealing with domestic violence tells a different story. Commissioner Rob Manfred decides on punishments for domestic violence incidents on a case-by-case basis, but no player has ever been banned for life after being arrested for a domestic dispute.
Sam Dyson, a free agent reliever, was recently suspended for the entire 162-game season for a domestic violence incident. That marked the longest suspension the MLB has handed out under its current domestic violence policy. The previous five incidents all carried suspensions of 85 games or less.
Ozuna might be in danger of being suspended for the rest of the 2021 season, but that seems like the worst punishment he could receive from Major League Baseball.