Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bad Elijah Dukes Good -- Very Good -- for Birthday

Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes -- fast but not always fast enough to outrun his bad reputation -- has been very, very good boy as he approaches his 26th birthday this week, hitting .325 for the month with three homers, two triples, four doubles and five stolen bases.

Though Dukes career has been marred by a string of angry confrontations, embarrassing episodes and petty run-ins with the law -- the 6-foot-1, 240 pound slugger has been a model citizen since arriving from Tampa Bay in Washington, leading some to believe that with age comes mental maturity.

After struggling to keep his batting average above .200 for most of the season, Dukes' hot streak his raised his overall mark above the .250 threshold as he tries to hit to all fields, though so far only to left and center with authority.

Even though Dukes is right handed, he is flirting with a .300 clip against righties, perhaps an indication of just how high Duke's upside might be.