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James Loney should give Dodgers real concern

December 8, 2011 |  2:03 pm

Loney3
The Dodgers had big news too, about their first baseman. In keeping with the times, however, this  personnel news was of a different variety than player signings.

While the Angels were signing Albert Pujols and demonstrating what a well-run franchise can do when it negotiates a new TV deal, the Dodgers were back in a Delaware bankruptcy court while trying to deal with the news that James Loney was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after authorities said he swiped three cars on the 101 Freeway last month.

After allegedly hitting the three cars with his Maserati at 6:12 p.m. on Nov. 14 in Sherman Oaks, California Highway Patrol spokesman Leland Tang said Loney came to an abrupt stop in the fast lane, appeared unconscious to drivers of the three other cars and then attempted to flee the scene.

And the Dodgers have until Monday to tender him a contract.

Teammates and coaches like to kid Loney about his goofiness, but this is a whole other world. And a damn scary one. One to be very concerned about and cautious with.

CHP officers said Loney demonstrated "symptoms of being intoxicated or being under the influence of something." So they suspect he was either drunk or on drugs while motoring west on the 101 on a Monday evening.

He was taken to Sherman Oaks Hospital for tests, including ones for alcohol and drugs. Tang said the results were not yet available. Hey, it’s only been 3½ weeks.

If cleared of the DUI, that would still leave troubling questions. He allegedly lost consciousness because why? He hit his head? He had a seizure? He was just really, really tired?

None of that would explain allegedly attempting to flee the scene. What right-thinking person tries to flee the scene in the middle of rush-hour traffic in the fast lane of the 101?

The story was first reported by TMZ.com.

The Times’ Dylan Hernandez spoke with Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti, who said he was aware of the incident, but that based upon what he knew, it would not affect the decision to tender him a contract.

Loney made $4.875 million last season, but after struggling the first half finished strong enough that he’s in line for a raise and could be looking at over $6 million for the 2012 season.

The bankrupt Dodgers have sat out the off-season pursuit of first basemen Pujols and Prince Fielder. For now, Loney is their guy. One in trouble. The only question being, how much?

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers first baseman James Loney. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

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