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Taiwan's pro baseball league rejects controversial U.S. pitcher

2018/08/11 19:38:22

Photo courtesy of Lamigo Monkeys

Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) will not allow pitcher Luke Heimlich, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to child molestation, to play for the Lamigo Monkeys because his signing could adversely affect the league's image.

The decision, announced Friday, was made based on Article 94 of the CPBL's rules, which allows the league to end the contracts of foreign players immediately if they hurt the league's image for convictions for major violations, the CPBL said in a statement.

The Monkeys, who announced Tuesday they had reached a deal with the 22-year-old Oregon State left-hander, called the decision unfair and said it was deeply regrettable that the CPBL only focused on the "league's image" without taking other points into consideration.

It said that while Heimlich pleaded guilty to a felony charge of molesting his six-year-old niece when he was 15, he has completed his probation and his criminal record has been erased, and the decision also ignores his efforts and achievements as a baseball player.

Heimlich was considered one of college baseball's top pitchers this year, and he helped Oregon State win the 2018 College World Series.

But he went undrafted by all 30 Major League Baseball teams for a second year in a row because of his controversial past and how he has handled it.

Monkeys general manager Justin Liu (劉玠廷) said when the team announced his signing that it would be "truly regrettable if a potential first round pick has no place to showcase his talent," but the team was widely criticized for the move.

Two of the CPBL's other three teams -- the New Taipei-based Fubon Guardians and Tainan-based Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions expressed support for the league's decision on Heimlich on Friday.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and Hsu Hsiao-ling)