James Loney says now he understands why what he dismissively refers to as “a car accident” made headlines late last year.
It was a multiple-car crash, his behavior afterward admittedly bizarre. And he is, after all, a Dodgers starter and a player whose production is key to the team’s fortunes next season.
He would just like to put it behind him once and for all now that he knows he won’t be facing criminal charges related to the Nov. 14 incident, which occurred on the 101 Freeway in Sherman Oaks.
“Anything is news as long as people know about it,” he said Wednesday during the second and final day of the Dodgers’ community caravan.
Loney said head trauma he sustained was the reason he acted as he did.
“I can’t remember after I hit my head,” he said.
He does, however, remember the initial crash.
“The car in front of me … I was trying to change lanes and I kind of hit the car,” he said. “I hit my head right after that.”
According to the California Highway Patrol, Loney sideswiped two other cars and passed out with his car parked in the fast lane. When he awoke, he tried to the flee the scene by cutting across all four westbound lanes, and, in doing so, collided with another car before hitting the sound wall on the right shoulder, the CHP said.
Loney said he couldn’t recall any of that.
“I remember when the cops came,” Loney said.
Loney was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, but the city attorney determined there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the case. Tests indicated the first baseman didn’t have drugs or alcohol in his system.
Loney was reluctant to revisit the incident, which has remained in the news. On Tuesday, TMZ released the recording of a 911 call made by a witness as Loney drove away from the scene of the first crash.
Loney said he hasn’t paid any of the drivers of the cars he hit for repairs, adding that he would let the insurance companies handle that, if necessary. He also said he wasn’t aware of any pending civil charges.
The upcoming season is a crucial one for Loney, 27, who is eligible to be a free agent next winter.
With Loney driving in a career-low 65 runs last season, the Dodgers tried to upgrade at first base this winter by pursuing free-agent slugger Prince Fielder.
Asked what his reaction to that was, Loney said, “I didn’t have a reaction. Nobody really talked about it, the people I deal with. It is what it is. There’s something new in the news every day. You have to pick and choose what you see every day.”
Asked what he thought would have happened to him if the Dodgers had succeeded in signing Fielder, Loney replied, “I don’t know. We don’t know because it didn’t happen.”
Loney said he was optimistic about next season based on how he finished last year. He batted .388 with seven home runs and 28 runs batted in over his final 35 games.
“I just felt like my timing just got on,” Loney said of his turnaround. “Early on, I was late a lot. When your timing’s off, your swing will get off, too.”