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Article on Dukes

Postby deerayfan072 » Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:14 pm

ST. PETERSBURG - Elijah Dukes wasn't prodded or cajoled into it. He came right out and said it himself.

"Being able to stay on the field to help the team, that's the thing I need the most improvement in," he said Monday.

Dukes wasn't referring to keeping himself out of the trainer's room. He was talking about the altercations and confrontations, the arrests and bad judgment that ultimately led to five separate suspensions last season.

The Hillsborough High graduate's anger-management issues limited him to just 93 games at Triple-A Durham last year and may have kept him from making his major-league debut. Now that he's on the cusp of reaching the game's highest level, Dukes believes the benefits of staying there might be enough to set him straight.

"I've just been uptight," he said Monday morning at the Naimoli Complex. "I'd be uptight a little bit trying to make it. Sometimes once you get there you can kind of loosen up a little bit and not be so uptight. When you're trying to make it for your family and stuff, it's just a lot on you. Hopefully when I get that call saying I'm in the league, I'll probably be about 220 [pounds] again."

In an effort to throw that weight off his 245-pound frame once and for all, Dukes said his focus is on communication and "just being humble" as he heads into a spring training that likely will see him break camp as the Devil Rays' fourth outfielder.

Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said last week the club would be receptive to keeping Dukes on the roster even if he isn't getting regular starts in the outfield - which he wouldn't, as long as Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and Delmon Young stay healthy.

It goes without saying that Dukes would be on a short leash. He appreciates the generosity the Rays already have shown in absorbing the negative publicity he has generated over the years.

"Since I've been here, they've had my back 110 percent, and you can't say that for most organizations," he said. "They have stuck by me, and I'm going to stick by them regardless of the outcome of anything during the season. Just the way they treat me, it feels good to be here, and I wouldn't rather go anywhere else."

Assuming the 22-year-old finds a way to stay focused, the Rays finally may realize a return on what Manager Joe Maddon calls his "outrageous" potential.

"It's incumbent upon us as an organization to try to see that all the way through," Maddon said. "If we get Elijah playing like he can at the major-league level and becoming absorbed into this organization, it's going to benefit us for many years."

Dukes' reputation will precede him wherever he goes, but he doesn't anticipate any problems being accepted in the clubhouse.

"I'll just be me," he said. "They've got a job to do, I have a job to do. Most people don't really focus on what you do in the offseason and stuff. If I bring it to the locker room and they really see it for themselves, then they probably would go on that, but when I meet people they're always 'How you doin'?' or whatever. They don't ask me questions about it, so I don't think I have to prove anything to them."

Inside or outside the clubhouse, Dukes will face plenty of skepticism until he proves he has reformed. The stakes are higher, too. Already notorious for the sheer volume of problems he had in the minors, the scrutiny will be much more intense at the major-league level, particularly with him playing for his hometown team.

Dukes said Monday he already has made tremendous strides, while also acknowledging setbacks along the way. As long as he knows he's on the right path and the organization concurs, he said, that's what matters to him.

"I'm still here, right?"
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Postby raiders_umpire » Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:21 pm

He has a long road ahead of him, but I am rooting for him to be able to keep his head on straight and become an offensive force.
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Postby deerayfan072 » Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:25 pm

raiders_umpire wrote:He has a long road ahead of him, but I am rooting for him to be able to keep his head on straight and become an offensive force.


We can only hope he stays clear headed and matures and shows his talent
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Postby jlm53089 » Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:17 pm

i really hope he is not a cry baby.
and whiner.
lets hope he matures and rides the bench like a man.
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Postby raiders_umpire » Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:24 pm

jlm53089 wrote:i really hope he is not a cry baby.
and whiner.
lets hope he matures and rides the bench like a man.




If he has really matured, he will not be riding the bench long. He is probably our 4th best bat behind Upton, Young, and Crawford. He will easily win the DH spot and also give the outfielders a day off every now and then if he is matured and ready to be a big leaguer.
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Postby deerayfan072 » Wed Feb 21, 2007 9:56 am

raiders_umpire wrote:
jlm53089 wrote:i really hope he is not a cry baby.
and whiner.
lets hope he matures and rides the bench like a man.




If he has really matured, he will not be riding the bench long. He is probably our 4th best bat behind Upton, Young, and Crawford. He will easily win the DH spot and also give the outfielders a day off every now and then if he is matured and ready to be a big leaguer.


I think in the beginning he will basiaclly do a Hollins, where he spells the OF, but when he shows his offense off they will need to play him at DH or maybe even 1st to get his bat in the lineup
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Postby deerayfan072 » Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:13 am

Dukes is doing well so far. He is very happy the DRO has faith in him and he seems rejuvinated.
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Postby raiders_umpire » Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:22 am

deerayfan072 wrote:Dukes is doing well so far. He is very happy the DRO has faith in him and he seems rejuvinated.




Great news to hear. ;-D
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