Former major leaguer Jim Leyritz, who was charged yesterday with DUI manslaughter, may face additional charges from the early-morning crash in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that left a mother of two dead, police said.

The manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, and Leyritz also could face a first-degree misdemeanor charge of damaging property while driving under the influence.

The possible additional charge is pending the completion of the investigation, including toxicology results, officials said.

Fredia Veitch, 30, who was driving home from her restaurant job, was killed in the crash. She lived in Plantation, just north of Fort Lauderdale.

Leyritz, who turned 44 on Thursday and lives in nearby Davie, was released from the Broward County Jail yesterday afternoon after posting an $11,000 bond. Leyritz could not be reached for comment, and it was not known whether he had hired an attorney.

Leyritz played in parts of nine seasons for the New York Yankees during his 11-season major league career, primarily as a catcher. He is best known for hitting a game-tying home run for the Yankees in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series. The Yankees went on to beat Atlanta in that game and the Series.

At about 3:30 a.m. yesterday, police say they found Leyritz red-eyed as he clumsily attempted to complete sobriety tests and repeatedly refused Breathalyzer and blood tests. He walked away relatively unscathed from the violent T-bone collision.

Leyritz was driving his red Ford Expedition when he passed a red light and crashed into the driver's side of Veitch's green Mitsubishi Montero, said Detective Katherine Collins, a Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman.

Veitch, driving home from her job as a waitress at Original Steakhouse and Sports Theater, near the 17th Street Causeway, was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the car during the crash, police said. She was pronounced dead at Broward General Medical Center minutes later.

After learning of Veitch's death, police told Leyritz that the blood test had become mandatory, the report states. Leyritz still refused, and paramedics had trouble collecting a blood sample from him in the back of a Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue truck, police said.


* The Houston Astros signed righthander Oscar Villarreal to a 2-year, $2.85 million contract.

The deal, worth $1 million in 2008 and $1.6 million in '09, includes a $250,000 signing bonus and a $2 million club option for '10. Villarreal, 26, was traded by Atlanta for outfielder Josh Anderson last month. *