Mets place Scott on paid leave, acting GM pleads not guilty

National Sports

New York Mets fans watch a baseball game against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)

NEW YORK (AP) — Acting general manager Zack Scott was placed on administrative leave Thursday by the New York Mets following his arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated.

Electronic court records show Scott was released without bail after pleading not guilty earlier in the day to driving while intoxicated and three traffic violations. His driving privileges in New York were suspended, and he is due back in White Plains City Court on Oct. 7.

Scott, 44, was arrested on a DUI charge around 4:15 a.m. Tuesday in suburban White Plains, New York, hours after he attended a fundraiser at team owner Steve Cohen’s house.

Police found Scott asleep at the wheel of his SUV at a traffic light and determined he was intoxicated, White Plains police Capt. James Spencer said. He said Scott refused an alcohol breath test.

Scott’s lawyer, Keith Lavallee, did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press on Thursday evening.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, the Mets said they placed Scott on administrative leave “until further notice,” and team president Sandy Alderson will assume Scott’s GM responsibilities running baseball operations.

Mets manager Luis Rojas said he addressed his players at Citi Field, and Alderson spoke to the coaches and performance staff.

“He did say that he will be more present,” Rojas said. “He’s been more on the business side.”

Scott will be paid while on administrative leave, the club confirmed.

He was hired by the Mets as senior vice president and assistant general manager in December to work under close friend and former colleague Jared Porter. Scott was promoted to acting GM in January, eight days after Porter was fired following revelations he sent sexually explicit, uninvited text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 while working for the Chicago Cubs.

Scott had spent the previous 17 seasons with Boston, where he worked alongside Porter under former Red Sox and Chicago Cubs baseball boss Theo Epstein.

Following news of his arrest, the Mets said Wednesday that Scott would not accompany the team on its upcoming road trip, which begins Friday night in Washington. New York was set to wrap up a turbulent homestand Thursday night against the Miami Marlins.

Also on Wednesday, the Mets confirmed an ESPN report that Scott was at a fundraiser for the team’s Amazin’ Mets Foundation at Cohen’s house in Connecticut on Monday night, which was attended by players as well. Scott left when the event ended around 8:30 or 9 p.m., the club said.

Alderson, 73, was the Mets’ general manager from 2010-18 before stepping down due to a cancer diagnosis and the team’s poor play. He returned as team president when Cohen completed his $2.4 billion purchase of the club from the Wilpon and Katz families on Nov. 6.

Now running the baseball department again, Alderson immediately made a significant move Thursday, claiming left-handed reliever Brad Hand off waivers from Toronto.

The Mets pursued Hand as a free agent in the offseason before he signed with division-rival Washington.

Mets fans celebrated Cohen’s ascendance to majority owner, but his first year in charge has brought about the same sort of embarrassing controversy and drama that plagued the club under the control of Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

Porter was fired 38 days after he was hired as general manager. A string of seemingly endless injuries hindered the team early in the season. Star slugger Pete Alonso was brought to tears when popular hitting coach Chili Davis was fired in May, and the offense has continued to struggle. Despite all that, the Mets led the NL East for nearly three months before collapsing in August and falling out of playoff position.

Scott has publicly criticized players for not following injury prevention protocols provided by the training staff. Cohen tweeted on Aug. 18 that “it’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive.”

And star shortstop Francisco Lindor — acquired from Cleveland and given a $341 million, 10-year deal in Cohen’s first major on-field transaction — has flopped in the batter’s box and been at the center of contention elsewhere.

Lindor got into a heated exchange with teammate Jeff McNeil during a game in May, a dustup Lindor tried to explain away as an argument about whether a rat or raccoon had been spotted in an adjacent hallway. Scott said their public handling of the disagreement was “probably not ideal.”

Lindor and trade-deadline acquisition Javier Báez issued separate apologies Tuesday after Báez revealed that a thumbs-down celebration used by the team recently was actually a dig at Mets fans who had booed New York players. Lindor was jeered again in his first at-bat after saying he was sorry.

Riding a four-game winning streak, the third-place Mets (65-67) were five games behind NL East leader Atlanta going into Thursday night.

“There’s some unfortunate things that we’ve had as an organization in the offseason and now in-season, and I think we’ve handled it well to navigate through it,” Rojas said.

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Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz and AP Baseball Writer Jake Seiner contributed to this report.

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