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Reds’ Leake may enter court diversion program

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Associated Press
April 20, 2011
— Cincinnati Reds starter Mike Leake will keep his spot in the rotation while he handles a misdemeanor shoplifting charge.

Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker decided to keep Leake as his starter for the final game of a series against Arizona on Thursday. Leake was arrested on Monday afternoon at a downtown department store, accused of removing the tags from six T-shirts and trying to steal them.


Baker talked to Leake before deciding to keep him on schedule to start.


“We talked about how he felt and could he handle the pressures of it, and he said yeah,” Baker said. “Sometimes when you’re in times of trouble, it’s easier to go to work than to not go to work.”


Police arrest reports said Leake removed the price tags from six American Rag T-shirts at a Macy’s store on Monday and tried to leave without paying for them. The six shirts were valued at $59.88. Leake makes $425,000 in his second season in the majors.


Leake has not discussed the arrest, other than to issue an apology “for this distraction.” He declined to be interviewed on Tuesday.


Leake had his first court hearing on Tuesday. His lawyer asked to let him enter a Hamilton County diversion program for first-time offenders. If accepted, he would pay a $200 fee, likely perform volunteer work and take a class. He also would have to acknowledge guilt. His record could be wiped clean once he completed the program. His next court date is May 18.


Baker has thought about the reaction Leake will receive from fans at Great American Ball Park when he starts.


“You’re always concerned, but it’s going to happen sooner or later,” Baker said. “Probably be less adverse fan reaction at home than it would be on the road, you know. We considered that.”



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