VENICE, Fla. — Atlanta Braves outfielder, Marcell Ozunasays he has addressed his teammates and apologized to fans for an arrest last year on charges of aggravated strangulation and assault after police officers said they saw him attack his wife.
Ozuna returned to the team this week for the first time since his arrest on May 29. He was placed on administrative leave during Major League Baseball’s investigation and missed Atlanta’s World Series championship last fall.
MLB retroactively suspended the 31-year-old for 20 games under its domestic violence policy in November, allowing him to return for the start of the 2022 season.
“Yeah, I talked to my team,” Ozuna said Monday, the first day of spring training with the full team. “I spoke to my team and said, ‘I’m sorry, I made a mistake.'”
Ozuna was greeted by his teammates in the clubhouse on Monday and several players gathered around his locker before practice began, just like old times.
“It’s good to have him back,” teammate Ronald Acuña Jr. said through an interpreter. “You know, he’s a great baseball player. You know, on and off the field and, you know, things that happened off the field, those are challenges for everyone. Certain things that happen off the field, they can happen to anyone.” .
Police body camera footage obtained by TMZ Sports two days after MLB announced his suspension appeared to show Ozuna grabbing his wife’s neck as officers arrived at their Georgia home. The Sandy Springs Police Department said in a statement in May that it also observed Ozuna throwing her against a wall and hitting her with the cast on her injured left hand.
Ozuna said he has completed the requirements of a pretrial diversity program, a condition provided by the Fulton County district attorney’s office for charges to be dropped. The program included three to six months of supervision. Ozuna was also ordered to complete a 24-week family violence intervention program, at least 200 hours of community service, and an anger management course.
“I learned everything,” he said of counseling. “I learned how you treat a person, how you are a better person, how you are the best dad, how you are a human being. You learn all of that.”
Ozuna said he is now “on the same page” with his family. She said that she didn’t think she had spent time alone with her three children before last summer and she has been taking them to the playground and to toy stores.
“I give my children time, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “Family first. That’s what I’m worried about right now, my family and then coming here, working hard, being honest with my teammates. That’s the most important thing.”
Ozuna said he hoped the public could forgive him.
“My fans, I’m going to give you my best and I’m going to be a better person, and I’m sorry,” he said.
Ozuna was specifically asked what he would say to fans who are also victims of domestic violence.
“I’m just telling you, just treat me like the person I was before,” he said. “Like, I was an amazing person on the field. So I want to be like that. I’m going to give you my smile. If they think it’s not the time to give me a warm welcome, that’s fine.”
Ozuna’s suspension cost him $1.55 million of his $12 million salary last season. He is entering the second year of a four-year, $65 million deal with the Braves.
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Ozuna apologizes for domestic violence