The Mariners knew all about Josh Lueke's 96-mph fastball when they acquired him from the Texas Rangers in the Cliff Lee deal.
But Mariners executives insisted they knew nothing before the July 9 trade about the 25-year-old minor-leaguer facing felony charges in a rape and sodomy case in which he later pleaded no contest to a lesser charge.
However, new information appears to contradict the Mariners' original version of events. Former Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair said he told general manager Jack Zduriencik about Lueke's troubles well before the deal.
And contrary to Mariners claims that there was nothing they could do after the trade, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he made a standing offer that night to take Lueke back.
Police and court documents show Lueke lied multiple times to police investigating the suspected May 2008 sexual assault of an unconscious 22-year-old woman in a Bakersfield, Calif., apartment shared by the pitcher and his Class A teammates.
The case is potentially embarrassing for the Mariners, who run an annual Refuse to Abuse campaign and have long supported groups opposing violence toward women.
Adair, a minor-league pitching coordinator with the Rangers during the 2008 rape investigation, says he warned Zduriencik about Lueke's situation.
"I told him everything I knew about every prospect I was asked about, including Lueke, including any court case," said Adair, who was fired Aug. 9 along with Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. "Everything I knew to be accurate, I told them."
Mariners President Chuck Armstrong said he learned of Lueke's case by reading media accounts published hours after the trade. He ordered Zduriencik to phone Texas GM Daniels back that night and get a player-to-be-named substituted in Lueke's place.
"We tried that on Friday night," Armstrong said. "But then, on Saturday morning, the Rangers said, 'No, we've already notified the players. The deal stands as is.' "
But Daniels said the Mariners could have sent Lueke back. "We offered several times to reacquire Lueke in a separate transaction — an offer originally made the same night the deal was announced," he said in an e-mail to The Times. "That offer stands."
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