Though he sent his wife an electronic picture of a pistol and threatened to kill her and their two children, outfielder Elijah Dukes will keep the devil in Devil Rays by being restored to the lineup at the expense of infielder Jorge Cantu.
Though the team will be forced to make a roster move Monday to make room for the return of third baseman Akinora Iwamura from the disabled list, preliminary indications are that Cantu will take the fall. Expect Cantu to be sent down to Triple A Durham while Dukes will continue to play despite his most recent in a lengthy list of transgressions including drug infractions and various acts of hostility with violent overtones.
Confronted by reporters after wife NiShea Gilbert swore out a protection order against him, Dukes declined to offer an apology, regrets or sorrows over the incident. To the contrary, he was described as upbeat and jovial, and hit his ninth homerun in his first game back after temporarily being benched. Though he has a batting average only Dave Kingman could admire, Dukes is on pace to hit 40 homers for the season.
Fortunately for Dukes, he plays for the Devil Rays, a team with a long tradition of playing thugs and goons. If Dukes played for class organizations like the Dodgers, Mets, Astros, Braves, Twins or other teams, he would have been shown the door long ago, and would face a very, very long road back to the majors.
Why the Devil Rays continue to handle Dukes with kid gloves remains mysterious, unless perhaps Dukes E-mailed a picture of his pistol to the team's front office as well.