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Dukes Back Where His Career Started

Elijah Dukes is not yet a success story. "A work-in-progress," Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten calls him. In glimpses, he looks like a potential all-star. At other times, injury problems interfere with his development. Always, his history of well-documented legal problems -- which include numerous domestic problems, threats of violence, and court proceedings relating to child support payments -- underscores the tenuousness of Dukes' career.

But, if ever Washington's outfielder can establish himself as a problem-free contributor, the turning point will be clear. On Dec. 3, 2007, Washington acquired Dukes from Tampa -- the franchise that drafted him, the franchise that was happy to deal him. (The Rays asked only for lefty Glenn Gibson in return.) By leaving his hometown, Dukes distanced himself from a city where he was known mostly for his very worst transgressions. Since landing in Washington, Dukes has benefited from a formal support system, which includes full-time assistance from ex-cop, James Williams.

"He hasn't been associated with anything bad or questionable or negative since he's joined us, and part of that is the structure we put in place and the support system," Kasten said. "But, you know, the lion's share of the credit goes to Elijah himself."

Today Dukes returned to his old ballpark, Tropicana Field, for the first time since the trade. Before tonight's game, he shook hands with Tampa manager Joe Maddon and hitting coach Steve Henderson. But, he declined to comment to the media about his homecoming.

Still, the occasion prompted Washington to assess how Dukes has performed -- and behaved -- during the last 1-1/2 years. Though Dukes has few friends in the Washington clubhouse, even those who keep their distance acknowledge his hard work ethic. And his value. A recent slump drew Dukes' average down to .253, entering the series, but he already has six homers and 27 RBI, despite missing 13 games with a left hamstring injury.

"We know he's not perfect," Manager Manny Acta said. "Neither am I, neither are you. But I believe he's making progress as a human being. How long is it going to take? I don't know. But we haven't had any issues off the field. Everything he's dealing with, it was stuff we knew he had when we brought him over here."

By Chico Harlan  |  June 12, 2009; 7:49 PM ET
 
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Next: A Ludicrous Loss (And Maybe A Ludacris Loss Tomorrow)

Comments

make that "where his career starteD"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 12, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Nice start

Posted by: theredskin | June 12, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

and as long as I'm being like that, may I pointlessly point out that "the lion's share" = 100%, i.e., everything? The lion comes in and takes the whole thing because, who's gonna tell him no?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 12, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

we now return you to your regularly scheduled Nats game, already in progress. 3-0, Nats, bottom 1.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 12, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

They've announced this several times on MASN, but I know the MASN-bashers (and I am one myself) will probably blame them for this: MASN2 will not start coverage tomorrow night until 7:05, though the game starts at 6:08. This is due to a national MLB-manadated blackout. It's Tampa Bay's call to start the game at that time, as I believe they are trying to accommodate a post-game concert. So blame MLB/FOX for the blackout, or the Rays for the start time, but this one won't be MASN's fault...

Posted by: BGinVA | June 12, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Like to see Dukes big hit in the 1st inning. We need to see more big hits come his way. I think the verdict is still very questionable.

Posted by: JT2009 | June 12, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Stammen has a perfect game through one.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | June 12, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

while we're watching the game, click on this link.

check out the manager.

check out a certain OF-3B.

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/statistics/1982/10373.shtml

Posted by: Chico Harlan | June 12, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Chico,

thanks for the link. Pretty cool. I did not know he played professionally.

Posted by: bigmook | June 12, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

T_S - The onus is on you if things turn south.
Go figure - Guzman sees more pitches & draws a walk than NJohnson does in the 2nd; How often has that happened this season?

Posted by: BinM | June 12, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

"check out the manager.

check out a certain OF-3B."

Either Madden is aging gracefully, or Rizz is looking ragged.

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 12, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

My eyes are not what they used to be, but on at least one camera angle that TB baserunner looked out at 2B on the steal.

Anyone else see that?

Posted by: bigmook | June 12, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Without looking at the replay yet on the play at the plate, that was a terrible tag by Bard. He reached for the guy and tagged him high which gave the guy a chance to slide under him.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 12, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Bad tag at the plate or did the ump miss this call (like I think they did at second on the steal)?

May I need new glasses.

Posted by: bigmook | June 12, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

He was out, bad tag and all. Joe West was moving as the ball got there to the plate, which is bad form. I think he's a lazy umpire and always has been.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 12, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Seems like Manny has a little fire in his belly tonight (or maybe just a fire lit under his butt).

Posted by: BinM | June 12, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

@baltova1:

Upon seeing the replay, you called it. Bard tagged him up on his chest.

Posted by: bigmook | June 12, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Nice play and throw to home by Dukes. And heads up to get the hitter hung up and tagged out just past first base.

Posted by: bigmook | June 12, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

The collapse has begun

Posted by: FloresFan | June 12, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Bard is having a bad night. No way he should even try to throw to third. He never had a shot at the runner. I think this falls in line with what Bos said in his column: if anything, this team hasn't quit, they're trying too hard. Hopefully, Stammen can get out of this.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 12, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

SO they get one undeserved run, and one unearned run.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 12, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Oops...I take that back. Way to stop to the bleeding Stammen.

Posted by: FloresFan | June 12, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe not. Stammen is still looking good. Struck out the last 2 batter with some nasty stuff.

Posted by: bigmook | June 12, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

no, he has to make that throw, he just has to make it better. if you wait to throw until you can see how good a shot you have, you'll seldom have a shot.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 12, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

has Nick's stance always been that open?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 12, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

http://tinyurl.com/ff7qr

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 12, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Did I just hear Dibble and Carpenter right, Baseball America rated the Nats' draft #1?

Is that right?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 12, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

"Did I just hear Dibble and Carpenter right, Baseball America rated the Nats' draft #1?"

That's what they said, all right. Can it be?

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 12, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

They were talking about the 2007 draft.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 12, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

They drafted Strasburg - 'nuff said, in the eyes of BA.

Posted by: BinM | June 12, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

CiL: I'm not watching the game, but listening to Charlie & Dave, so I might have spoken (posted) too soon. If Crapenter & Dribble were discussing the '07 draft, then that would be correct - that was the draft that jumped the Nats' from the bottom third to #8 in terms of prospects, in BA's eyes.

Posted by: BinM | June 12, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Looks like another game pi$$ed away - sorry, I'm out.

Posted by: BinM | June 12, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Hanrahan, you stink!

Posted by: BGinVA | June 12, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Time for another big hit Dukes. Don't let us down !!!!

Posted by: JT2009 | June 12, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

How close was that? Gameday had it at the wall.

Posted by: swang30 | June 12, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Nice baserunning by Dunn...

Posted by: BGinVA | June 12, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't that close, on the warning track, a few feet short of the wall.

Posted by: BGinVA | June 12, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, NJ. Your dropped foul pop-up has cost us this game.

#(@!^&@!

Posted by: BGinVA | June 12, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Now they're piling it on, when we should be up in the top of the 9th now...

Posted by: BGinVA | June 12, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

You knew it was only a matter of time. Only question was how, and I guess we found out. Wonder if we took fielding practice today - in a park where most of the Nats have never played. Both Zim and Nick had trouble near the stands.

How many times this year have we failed to score a runner from 3rd with less than 2 out? It boggles the mind that these guys are supposed to be major leaguers. Hell, drop a bunt, but we don't do that very well either.

Posted by: LeeM9308 | June 12, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

We have a young, pitch-to-contact staff. This is no way to bring them into the majors. This team is a headless chicken dammit!

Posted by: soundbloke | June 12, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

"Wonder if we took fielding practice today - in a park where most of the Nats have never played."

Hahahahahaha. That's funny.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 12, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

We have a young, pitch-to-contact staff. This is no way to bring them into the majors. This team is a headless chicken dammit!

Posted by: soundbloke | June 12, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Okay, Nick. Make up for frickin' error...

Posted by: BGinVA | June 12, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

for *your* error

Posted by: BGinVA | June 12, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody care? Amazing how this thread of comments just fizzled out into nothing at the end of that game.

Understandable, really. Our souls are crushed night after night in new ways.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 13, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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