MLB reinstates Julio Urias; investigation into domestic incident still ongoing

Julio Urias, eight days after being arrested and accused of domestic violence/battery, was reinstated by Major League Baseball without a substantial update on the situation.

From Jorge Castillo and Richard Winton of the LA Times:

“The decision was made by the commissioner’s office in coordination with the Major League Baseball Players’ Assn. as outlined in baseball’s collective bargaining agreement. MLB’s investigation, however, remains ongoing. Once Urias is reinstated, the Dodgers must place him on the active major league roster. They cannot option him to the minor leagues. Urias was put on seven-day administrative leave May 14, the day after he was accused by witnesses of shoving his girlfriend in the parking lot of the Beverly Center. Authorities reviewed surveillance footage, but the league has been unable to obtain video of the incident, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Major League Baseball began an investigation, as did the Los Angeles Police Department. The commissioner’s office could have requested another seven-day leave, suspended Urias or deferred discipline to a later date.”

So, the Dodgers’ hands are effectively tied when it comes to any disciplinary action or any kind of — for lack of a better word — punishment. They can’t even option him to the minors after this. I’m not sure if there’s a time limit on that restriction, but it wouldn’t be great if they couldn’t option him all season long, should the situation present itself. I’m guessing that isn’t the case. Word is if MLB had decided on another 7-day administrative leave, the MLB Players’ Union would have appealed that decision. It’s clear MLB doesn’t yet have the necessary evidence to issue a ruling on the incident.

I laid out what I thought should happen with Urias when the news first broke last week.

“I’m honestly not sure what the right thing to do is here. The Dodgers and MLB will investigate the situation, and a suspension seems likely, especially if there’s video of the incident. But the Dodgers — and MLB, for that matter — should try to view this from a different perspective. Make the victim feel like her voice matters, get the necessary help for Urias, and then worry about what he’s going to do for your baseball team or league. That is a distant third in this scenario. The worst thing that could come of all this — if he did it — is nothing. There has to be some punishment for this action. A suspension isn’t unemployment. There has to be rehabilitation. There has to be care on the part of the Dodgers for the victim and their player. Otherwise, nothing is going to change.”

No matter what ends up coming of this, rehabilitation and accountability are the most important thing for the player and team. The well-being of the woman (and any woman involved in a domestic violence/battery situation) and to not be afraid to report what happened is perhaps the most important thing here.

TMZ reported a couple days after its initial report that law enforcement sources said the case against Urias was “weak.”

‘We’re told the video of the incident does show Urias making physical contact with the woman during the (May) 13 altercation in the Beverly Center parking lot — but as one source puts it, ‘It doesn’t appear there’s criminal intent to injure her.’ One source says it appears Urias used his hands in an attempt to stop her from leaving the area during a heated argument. In other words, it seems as though he was trying to restrain her, not strike her … though the woman DID go to the ground at some point during the argument.’

So we’re still not entirely sure what happened. MLB’s investigation is still open, since they haven’t been able to obtain the video of the incident.

The video will likely come out eventually, but until then, all we know what happened is what we’ve been told. It’s a tough situation for the Dodgers and the fan base. I’m not going to try to tell anyone how to fan. I just know there’s a taint surrounding Urias now, even if he didn’t “intend to injure” his girlfriend in the incident.

I’m also not in the business of ranking or determining different degrees of domestic violence/battery. The situation described above is not as severe as some other reports we’ve heard in the past with other athletes in other sports, but it’s still not OK. The fact that he, on some level, put his hands on her in an attempt to restrain her from walking away should not have happened. And even if there was no intent to injure her, she still ended up on the ground, potentially as a result of him putting his hands on her.

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For now, Urias is back with the team. He’s probably going to pitch this weekend in Pittsburgh. I’m not sure how to feel about it. I’m not sure what to do.

Maybe he’ll be cleared of any legal wrongdoing. Maybe he won’t. Until the investigation is finished or progresses, all we can do is wait.

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If you or someone you know needs help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233 or by visiting this website.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.