Oregon State's Luke Heimlich excused from playing but remains in uniform

Luke Heimlich, seen here in 2015, says he doesn’t want to be a distraction for his team after being revealed as a registered sex offender. (AP)

Standout pitcher Luke Heimlich, who was identified as a registered sex offender by The Oregonian on Thursday, asked to be excused from playing while No. 1-ranked Oregon State plays for a berth in the College World Series.

In a statement released through his attorney, Stephen Ensor, the Oregon State ace stated that didn’t want to serve as a distraction. The request came hours before Oregon State defeated Vanderbilt 8-4 in the opening game of the best-of-three NCAA super regional.

Though he didn’t play, Heimlich was in uniform and was introduced to cheers before the game.

“He’s a team guy and in his statement he said that he didn’t want to be a distraction,” head coach Pat Casey said after the game. “I can just tell you that he is a fine young man and every second that he’s been on this campus, on and off the field, he’s been a first-class individual, one that his family should be proud of, your community should be proud of, our team is proud of. I believe in Luke.”

There was no word on if or when Heimlich might return to the field.

According to The Oregonian, Heimlich pleaded guilty to molesting a 6-year-old female family member when he was 15. Heimlich reportedly registered as a sex offender when he enrolled at Oregon State in 2014, but the paper recently discovered he was cited in April for failing to update his registry.

While his Oregon State coaches and teammates have been supportive, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that major league teams are taking a different approach regarding Heimlich’s past. At least four major league teams immediately took Heimlich off their draft boards after The Oregonian’s report surfaced. Heimlich has been projected as an early round selection for the upcoming draft, which begins on Monday.

Chances are there won’t be enough time for Heimlich to sway the opinions of major league scouts and executives. He’ll just have to hope there’s on team that believes in him as much as his current team does.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!