ATLANTA -- MLB retroactively levied an unpaid suspension for Marcell Ozuna on Monday and announced the Braves outfielder will be eligible to play at the start of the 2022 season.
Ozuna received an unpaid suspension of 20 regular-season games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. This includes each of the 20 games the Braves played between the time the outfielder was placed on Administrative Leave on Sept. 10 and the end of the regular season.
“My office has completed its investigation into the allegations that Marcell Ozuna violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy,” Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said in a statement. “Having reviewed the totality of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Ozuna violated our Policy and that discipline is appropriate.”
Ozuna was arrested after police responded to a domestic disturbance at his Atlanta-area home on May 29. Cops said they saw the outfielder assault his wife. Charges initially included felony aggravated assault by strangulation. The felony charge was dropped in July.
The Braves issued this statement:
“Any instance of domestic violence is unacceptable, and we fully support the decision by the Commissioner’s Office regarding Marcell. We are encouraged to know that Marcell has accepted full responsibility for his actions and is taking the necessary measures to learn and grow from the situation.”
Ozuna entered a pretrial diversion program in September. He is currently taking part in an intervention program, which includes an anger management course. He has also been ordered to complete 200 hours of community service, refrain from illegal drugs and avoid contact with his wife.
If Ozuna fulfills all his requirements in a satisfactory manner, misdemeanor charges of family violence battery and simple assault would be dropped.
Ozuna had a strong season with the Braves in 2020 and received a four-year, $65 million contract last winter. The 31-year-old veteran hit .213 with a .645 OPS over the 48 games he played in 2021 before he fractured two fingers while sliding toward third base during a May 25 game at Fenway Park.
Ozuna returned to Atlanta the following day. His arrest occurred three days later, while the Braves were playing the Mets in New York.
After losing both Ozuna and Ronald Acuña Jr., who tore his right anterior cruciate ligament on July 10, the Braves reconstructed their outfield by acquiring Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario. Duvall is the only member of that group who remained controllable beyond the team’s World Series victory.
With Ozuna now potentially back in the fold, the Braves must assess how he might fit and how his presence may influence their offseason plans. Acuña Jr. is making progress with his recovery, but he still might miss the season’s first few weeks.