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Nationals notes: Dukes, L. Hernandez

Just before leaving his Florida off-season home for Indianapolis this week, Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman attended a viewing for the late Elijah "David" Dukes Sr., the father of Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes, who died on Nov. 23 at the age of 43 -- three weeks after being released from prison following a 14-year sentence for murder. Riggleman spoke to the younger Dukes and acknowledged having some concern over the effect his father's death will have on Dukes.

"It hit him hard," Riggleman said, "because Elijah was really looking forward to his father seeing him play -- and then after a few weeks, he's gone."

Asked whether Dukes's troubled childhood and history of off-field issues makes the team even more concerned about his emotional state, Riggleman said, "I guess there would be more concern, after everything he's been through, and his father having never seen him in the big leagues, and this was finally going to be the opportunity. So there's that much more concern that he's going to be really upset. Nothing's going to heal it except time, and none of us know what that time is."

The elder Dukes was released from prison on Nov. 1, after serving time for murder, and soon thereafter fell ill. He was later diagnosed with cancer, which apparently had gone undetected and untreated in prison. He died just 22 days after his release. According to Riggleman, the younger Dukes was "extremely upset" the cancer had gone undetected in prison.

The younger Dukes was summoned home to Tampa from the Dominican Republic, where he was playing winter ball, when his father fell gravely ill, and was able to spend some time with him before he died. Dukes was expected to return to his winter ball team this week.

*The Nationals have met this week with the agent for free agent starting pitcher Livan Hernandez, with interest on both sides in a new deal for the 34-year-old right-hander who went 2-4 with a 5.36 ERA for the Nationals in 2009 after signing with them as a free agent in August.

"The Nationals are aware that Livan would like to return to Washington next season," agent Barry Praver said.

Praver would not characterize the talks, but Hernandez is expected to command only a one-year contract with a low base and ample performance incentives.

By Dave Sheinin  |  December 9, 2009; 3:16 PM ET
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I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you've had your father get sent to prison for murdering your mom's crack dealer, then you I'll listen to you criticize Elijah Dukes. If not, if you haven't walked a mile in his shoes, I don't care what you say.

And if you have walked a mile in his shoes, I'll bet you'd say he's an amazing success story.

Posted by: sbiel2 | December 9, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

i repeat...just say no to livo.

millwood for ray? seriously? couldn't the nats have bundled rivera and nieves or some other flotsam and jetsam to the rangers? memo to mrizz - those high ERA relievers DO have value to some teams.

Posted by: surly_w | December 9, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I say sign Livo for real cheap and make him lose at least 30lbs.

Posted by: FloresFan | December 9, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Correia's FIP is in line with the average pitcher. The perfect #3 or #4 and at $3-$4M the ideal steal. Add him and another one or two SP's and the Nats might get interesting (i.e. 75-80 wins).

Posted by: lpatashn | December 9, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Please no Livo. There are better cheap options out there.

Posted by: js_edit | December 9, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Acta was right about the Nats. When you have the worst pitching in baseball, it is no surprise that you become the worst team.

Posted by: lpatashn | December 9, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Nice Floresfan. He'd still be over weight though wouldn't he.

Look, I don't love the Livo plan either nut it's not the worst Plan C. And really, who could pull against Livo?

Posted by: soundbloke | December 9, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman attending the viewing as a gesture of support for one of his players is pretty damned solid. Especially considering the circumstances surrounding the deceased.

Posted by: Kev29 | December 9, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Livo is still valuable if he comes cheap. Fan-graphs proves it.

Posted by: lpatashn | December 9, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Livo losing 30lbs isn't going to add anything to his fastball. He doesn't have a stamina problem. He's a soft-tosser and thus is at the mercy of the home plate umpire; more so than a fireballer. If he's getting the edges called strikes he's going to have a decent night. If not he's probably going to walk a few and give up some crooked numbers.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | December 9, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Livan needs to find another club. The Nats need to get some guys who are front end guys, not placeholders. Livan neither pushes the team forward by being a high qulaity SP nor does he offer any future upside. His value is that he can toss as many innings as you want -- as many hit filled, high pitch count, low dominance innings as you want. A minor league contract, sure, but please no MLB deal for this guy.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 9, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

kudos to Riggleman for being there for one of his players.
I'll say it again, my heart goes out to Elijah and his family.

Posted by: rvrtis | December 9, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang....lots of interesting stuff going on, but two posts grabbed my attention.
Kev29-absolutely. Doesn't mean Riggs will be a better manager but it's sure gotta count for something in the bank of life. And I hope that the fact of his dad not seeing him play and the tragedy of his death will HELP Elijah continue to mature into the decent human he seems to be. AND provide fuel to really reach for his potential as a ballplayer.On those fronts, I totally agree, Sbiel2.
Ya know, I've lived in the city for years, and my 'hood- on what used to be the edge of Capital Hill has undergone drastic gentrification. But having seen up close all sorts of social "pathologies", I don't believe most folks realize just how hard it is/can be to "Do the right thing" when you spend your formative years in an environment that offers very few reinforcements or encouragements to engage in that sort of behavior.Don't get me wrong-we're ALL for "personal responsibility"-and your envirnment isn't an excuse for inexcusable behavior. But it IS an explanation...and I wonder just how many of us realize how lucky we were to NOT have to have faced the question of what would I have done coming from similar circumstances.
So, yeah...I'm a big Elijah fan.And just from a baseball perspective, if he can ever put it half way together on the field.....Wow!
Sorry, gang, for the non-baseball editorializing.....and
Go Nats!

Posted by: zendo | December 9, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

It does not make sense to offer batting practice to the rest of the league.

Posted by: Washington-DC-Florist | December 9, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I agree. Classy move by Riggleman to get across the state to support one of his players when it would not have been noticed if he hadn't gone.

Posted by: dlombardo1 | December 9, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Here's a thought , ex-Marlins pitcher Eulogio De La Cruz was just released by the Friars today per Baseball Trade Rumors. At the time, they thought pretty highly of him ; why not take a flyer on a guy with a 3.12 era last year ??? Seems like a low-risk , high ceiling type pick-up for the Nats ! Go RIGGS , Go Rizzo !!!!

Posted by: MTLNatsPatsHabsFAN | December 9, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"Livan neither pushes the team forward . . ."

dfh: What do you see in the 2010 Nats that "pushes this team forward?" I don't see anything. The whole season is likely to be a placeholder.

Any improvements won't be evident until 2011 or likely much later. The Lerners alone are a drag on progress like an overboard anchor. Hard to overcome inertia and cheapitude at the top of the organization. Overall, Rizzo will have to be a magician to produce a winner at Nationals Park any time soon.

In the meantime, we will have the opportunity to see how major league baseball is played on the rare occasions when we have contenders playing here.

Posted by: JohnRDC | December 9, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

It seems that no matter what the Nat's FO has done over the last 3 days, the news has been greeted by the majority of this blog as "stupid, wrong, and a BIG waste of money...just as it has always acted for the last 3-5 years".

If there was ever a franchise whose season's W/L results equals their hardcore fanbase's lack-o'-baseball knowledge, the WashNats are it.(we're basically only talking about the 10-15 people who make up 95% of all of the WoPo Nats Journal daily posts---& all of the rest of us who either visit occasionally and post or just lurk---we all know who we all are!)

That said: The Nats are definitely moving forward! The signs are quite obvious (big FO reOrg, big FA signings). But there are still those who will never agree--only because it is so much easier, and much more fun, just to say "no".
Pudge's signing also reveals one great business reality: Great players are motivated only by 2 things: money & opportunity. HOF Pudge came here because he has seen this same opportunity (& money) twice before. And with both teams he surprisingly took a very poor team to the World Series. And he will become "bait" to future free agents who would NEVER consider signing with WashDC Nats.
It's a shame that the majority of the Nat fan base only believes what a disgraced Jim Bowden reports from the sidelines--that Pudge is historically an overpaid, poor performance catcher.
Um, excuse me!?! Who would you believe?
Jim Bowden (a league-wide disgrace) bad mouthing a HOF?? Or a new GM (Rizzo) making his first moves?
Place your bets!

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | December 9, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I am glad that some representative of the Nats showed up to support Elijah Dukes so kudos to Jim Riggleman!

Does anyone have any information on if there is a place to make a donation in Mr. Dukes memory?

Posted by: dmacman88 | December 10, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

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