Saturday, November 18, 2006

OF Elijah Dukes Will Get Look at 1B for Devil Rays

Troubled Devil Rays prospect Elijah Dukes -- up until now primarily an outfielder -- will get a look at 1B next spring as the team seeks a replacement for mediocre journeyman Travis Lee, who hit just .224 with 11 homers in '06. With the Rays outfield set with Carl Crawford in left, Rocco Baldelli in center and Delmon Young in right, journeyman infielder Greg Norton has been awarded 1B job by default. But barring a spectacular performance next March, Norton has little chance to be anything other than a backup. Dukes is the Rays top prospect with the ascension of Young and B.J. Upton as starters. Dukes has been described as hard-working and multi-talented. But he has had numerous clashes with authority figures, most notably AAA Durham Bulls manager John Tamargo, who suspended Dukes five times last year. Ironically Dukes now has the last laugh on Tamargo. Tamargo has been fired along with Bulls hitting coach Richie Hebner and the entire Durham staff after the team's 64-78 record in a season tarnished by Young's 50-game suspension for throwing a bat at an umpire and Tamargo's 10-game suspension for bumping an umpire.