Mariners Insider

Josh Lueke: Will fans forgive if not forget?

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on Feb. 14, 2011 at 6:34 am with 6 Comments »
February 14, 2011 6:34 am

Josh Lueke is a 26-year-old right-handed reliever in his first big-league camp, which is why it’s rather strange to say he’s as polarizing a player as anyone on the Seattle Mariners spring roster – including Milton Bradley.

Lueke’s 98 mph fastbball isn’t even his best pitch, according to bullpen coach Jamie Navarro. That would be his split-fingered fastball. Navarro wouldn’t be at all surprised, he said, if the team doesn’t break camp with Lueke on the opening day roster.

That may test the stomach of some fans.

Four years ago this May, Lueke had a sexual encounter with a then-22-year-old woman in Bakersfield, Ca. She told authorities she’d partied with a group of minor league players, bar-hopping and, she said, passing out in an apartment Lueke shared with a teammate.

When she awakened, she realized she’d been sexually attacked and filed a rape complaint.

One year later, linked to the woman through DNA, Lueke was arrested and charged with rape and sodomy. In 2009, he plead no contest to the lesser – but still heinous – charge of false imprisonment with violence. He was sentenced to 40 days in jail, but freed for time served.

On Tuesday, Lueke’s attorney said, his probation will end. That’s not likely to matter much to a lot of people, and count the Seattle Mariners front office among them.

While they’ve tried to be supportive of Lueke, whose ability is unquestioned, Mariners executives Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong were horrified when they learned of Lueke’s background – after the trade that had brought him, Justin Smoak and Blake Beavan to Seattle for Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe.

General manager Jack Zduriencik said he’d been mislead by Texas, although as any Mariner fan with access to the internet quickly learned, a simple ‘Google’ search of Lueke’s name brought the details of the case up. A month after the deal, the front office fired scouting director Carmen Fusco, one of Zduriencik’s closest friends in the organization.

So Lueke is polarizing, outside of the clubhouse. Inside, teammates haven’t asked, and coaches have treated him based on what they’ve seen of him since the trade, not whatever happened in 2007. Pitching coach Carl Willis saw Lueke pitch last year in Tacoma.

“His stuff is there,” Willis said. “He’s in the mix.”

A complete story on Lueke ran this morning in The News Tribune. Love to read your thoughts.

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. SandlotSam says:

    Just read the article – a good, fair, well-rounded one. I say give Lueke a chance. He satisfied the law. He’s been a perfect citizen since then. Everyone who has met him and not just read about him speaks highly of him. It’s time to move on.

  2. UncleWalter says:

    Yes, I hope this is the last time about Lueke’s past. Please don’t set Baker off again for another dreadful year of holier-than-thou articles!

  3. If he keeps his nose clean I have no problem with him being on the team.

  4. footballscaa says:

    Well Larry, people might forget if you didn’t bring it up. Again.

  5. westside_guy says:

    Given that he’s satisfied the requirements put forth by the courts, I think he shouldn’t be further penalized for his past crime. Given the nature of that crime, though, I do think he should be on the shortest of short leashes. His nose better be so clean it sparkles.

  6. I still say someone in the M’s FO is lying big time about this one & Fusco was made a fall guy for higher up’s screw ups.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0