Devil Rays' Dukes placed on temporary inactive list
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Troubled Tampa Bay outfielder Elijah Dukes was placed on the temporary inactive list Friday, a move the Devil Rays hope will enable the 22-year-old rookie to get his personal life on track.
Dukes, whose temper has been a concern ever since the team selected him in the third round of the 2002 draft, has been under constant scrutiny since his estranged wife revealed she sought a restraining order after being threatened by the athlete last month.
"What this allows us to do, and Elijah to do, is take some time away from the field and to focus on his personal life, re-evaluate everything, and most importantly allow him an opportunity away from the spotlight," Devil Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said before Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. "He himself has accepted this task, and we're very encouraged by it."
Dukes was benched for two games last month after his wife said she sought a protective order because she and the couple's two children were threatened by the player. Last week, he was given a personal day off after published reports detailed a pregnant 18-year-old girl's claim that Dukes is the father of her unborn child.
"The last couple of weeks has been a very frustrating time for everybody involved," Friedman said. "But people who do know Elijah know that at his core, he is a good person. He genuinely is. But obviously he's made poor choices and has done so repeatedly."
Dukes, who started 46 of 52 games he's appeared in this season, was batting .190 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs. He was optioned to the minor leagues in concert with being put on the inactive list.
Alan Nero, Dukes' agent, said they have been working together with the Devil Rays.
"We had extensive dialogue," Friedman said. "The only way this is going to work is for Elijah to fully be on board. We're very confident that he is. Obviously time will tell. But he seems to appreciate where he is today and where things are going and wants to get his life back on track for him and his family."
Dukes was not optioned to a particular minor league team, and Friedman would not speculate on how long the rookie might be on the inactive list. For now, the Devil Rays want him to concentrate doing what's necessary to get his problems under control.
"The baseball part of it is secondary," Friedman said. "What's most important is that he takes this time to focus on his personal life. Whenever that does happen, we'll focus back on baseball and see where it takes us."
Manager Joe Maddon held a 25-minute team meeting before batting practice Friday, but said it did not deal with Dukes' situation. Instead, he said he talked about a number of issues that can help the team improve its performance.
"I wish him well and hope it all works out," Maddon said of Dukes, whose locker was cleaned out before the clubhouse opened for reporters.
The Devil Rays replaced him by purchasing the contract of outfielder Dustan Mohr from Triple-A Durham. To create room on the 40-man roster, outfielder Rocco Baldelli (hamstring) was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.
Devil Rays outfielder Carl Crawford called it an "unfortunate" situation, but that the team has no choice but to move on.
"You never want to see someone's career take a turn like that, especially so early on," Crawford said. "He's got all the potential in the world and he can be that kind of player everyone thinks he can be. Hopefully, he'll get another chance."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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