Saturday, December 1, 2007

A step back for Tampa Bay's Dukes

Is there a chance Elijah Dukes could replace Delmon Young in right field for the Tampa Bay Rays?

A logical question based on Young’s trade to the Minnesota Twins and the fact the Washington Nationals don’t need a young outfielder after trading for Palmetto’s Lastings Milledge on Friday.

But Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman has been non-committal on that, and here’s why: Dukes went off again.

His angry outburst with a home plate umpire and subsequent ejection during a game with Licey in the Dominican Republic on Thursday may be viewed as a step back for the talented but troubled outfielder with a history of angry outbursts. It’s possible he could face a suspension from that league to go with the ones he served while in Triple-A.

Friedman said Dukes has made a lot of progress since being taken off the team’s active roster in June but still has a ways to go.

Now, arguing with the umpire is hardly grounds for banishment unless you are Elijah Dukes, who has been placed on notice by the Rays to clean up his act, both on and off the field.

You would think Dukes would realize this; that the privilege of playing major league baseball and being paid well to do so would be enough of a carrot. But, apparently, you would be wrong.

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