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One day after former Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich reportedly agreed to sign with a team in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, his future in the league is already in question.
ESPN's Jeff Passan was the first to report Heimlich had reached a deal with Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos, a Triple-A team based out of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, on Wednesday. However, league president Javier Salinas has since indicated that it's unlikely Heimlich will be allowed to play in the league.
“He’s not registered in the league,” Salinas, said in Spanish in a phone interview from Japan, where a contingent of Mexican players were taking part in exhibition games. “We have to analyze his case. It’s very difficult to see him registered in the Mexican League.”
Heimlich, who pleaded guilty to molesting a family member at age 15, is attempting to resurrect his career and rebuild his image. The now 23-year-old left-hander was considered a possible first round draft pick based on his talent and performance during three seasons at Oregon State, but all 30 MLB teams passed on him during the 2018 Draft.
Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos felt Heimlich was due another opportunity, but the team and league have drawn criticism from the victim’s family and from prominent activists. That has forced the league to reexamine Heimlich's future.
“The player has to have irreproachable conduct and be a good representative of the team and the league,” Salinas said. “Like any league, we have to verify that all of our entrants have good conduct. We are an example to a lot of boys and girls. And we have to protect the image of the league.”
According to the New York Times report, this could represent the second time Heimlich has had a contract agreement nixed by a league. In August, Heimlich reached a deal with the Lamigo Monkeys in Taiwan. The Chinese Professional Baseball League later declared that Heimlich could not play there due to his “criminal history and the effect on the league’s image.”
José Antonio Mansur, the owner of the Tecolotes, is on record stating he would view a rejection of Heimlich’s contract as a "discriminatory" act.
“I’m not a judge,” Mansur said in response to Salina’s comments. “I’m just a businessman, and I’ll give him an opportunity. If he was guilty, he’s already been judged. I’m just looking from here on forward. He has this opportunity, just like any citizen who has made a mistake. Who hasn’t tripped up in life and has to get back up?”
An official decision on Heimlich's status is expected in a few days.
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