FORT MYERS, FLA — The Red Sox have decided to help rather than release third-round pick, catcher Jon Denney, after he was arrested in an ugly incident with Lee County police on Friday night.
“We spent the last couple days gathering information and spending time with Jon trying to find out what happened and what needs to be done,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “At this point, we’re in the middle of putting together a program for Jon to address things that we feel he needs to address. That will likely mean he’s not on the field for a while and beyond that I can’t say anything else more than that at this time.
“We certainly take the incident seriously as we would with any other player. We’re trying to address his needs and help him in any way we can. But certainly he has some work to do.”
Denney, 19, was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with driving with a suspended license.
Denney was initially pulled over at 11:57 p.m. in the Fort Myers Beach area when his black Ford F-150 Raptor was observed accelerating quickly through a stop sign, causing the pickup truck to fishtail.
Denney produced a passport and an Arkansas license that was restricted for business and emergency purposes because of a previous DUI arrest. The Lee County police report indicated Denney started to “cuss at two officers.” Denney then said he was a Red Sox player and made more money than the officers would ever see.
Police later determined Denney’s license was suspended and he was booked on a charge of knowingly driving while his license was revoked, a misdemeanor. He was released at 8:30 a.m. after posting a $500 bond.
Denney faces a March 31 trial date.
Denney earned an $875,000 bonus out of Yukon (Okla.) High. He played in 26 games for the Rookie League Gulf Coast League Red Sox last season, hitting .203. His salary is approximately $1,000 a month during the season.
Asked if he thought of releasing Denney, Cherington said, “No. I think we feel like every case is different. Our first responsibility is to try and help out players in any way we can. That can come in a lot of different forms and you have to take a case-by-case approach to it. But in this particular case after gathering as much information as we could and after several people met with Jon, we determined that what we felt is best is to put together a program to try to help him with some things that we feel he needs help with and that’s what he’ll be focused on for the time being.”
“Obviously this is behavior that we don’t condone and is unacceptable and he knows that. So we’re going to try to help with the things that he needs help with. Again, I can’t really say more than that,” Cherington added.
Cherington said that at the time Denney was drafted there was no red flag about about past poor behavior.
“He’s a guy that we knew about the history, we knew about it. It is what it is. Some things have happened that shouldn’t have happened and he’s got to address those things before he can play baseball again,” Cherington said.
Cherington said that the “program” is one devised by some of the Red Sox’ in-house staff and could be supplemented by outside counselors. Cherington said Denney was dealing with a wrist issue and had not been participating in spring training.
The Red Sox have had three consecutive spring training driving incidents, two previously with former reliever Bobby Jenks and lefty Drake Britton, both of whom were charged with driving under the influence.
Peter Abraham of the Globe Staff contributed to this report