tampabay.com

Dukes suspended after undisclosed incident

The Devil Rays did not disclose what happened to cause Elijah Dukes to be suspended indefinitely.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 18, 2006


PHILADELPHIA - Another day, another disciplinary problem with a top prospect at Triple-A Durham.

Saturday, the Rays announced outfielder Elijah Dukes was suspended indefinitely for what spokesman Jason Latimer said were "disciplinary purposes."

Dukes, 21, has a history of on- and off-field problems and left the team earlier this season after a clubhouse tirade that reportedly included an altercation with a coach. He was ejected from a game June11 when, according to the Durham Herald-Sun , he threw his bat after striking out.

The Rays took action after an undisclosed incident prior to Saturday's game.

"There was another incident," Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "We sent him home for disciplinary reasons. That's about all I can say at this time."

The Times reported in March that Dukes, who grew up in Tampa, had been arrested five times since 1998 on various misdemeanor charges (including domestic battery) and skipped the 2005 Arizona Fall League to attend court-ordered anger management classes.

When he was suspended for six games last season at Double A after being tossed from a game, the Montgomery Advertiser reported it was his fifth ejection and second suspension.

When Dukes has been on the field, he has done well, hitting .295 with eight homers and 41 RBIs.

Early Friday, shortstop B.J. Upton was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Earlier this season, Delmon Young was suspended 50 games for throwing his bat at an umpire and manager John Tamargo was suspended 10 games for repeatedly bumping an umpire.

BIG RED: Seth McClung has lost five straight starts with an ERA of 8.54 over that stretch but said his primary goal this afternoon simply will be to throw the ball where he wants to.

"As long as you hit your spots, you can't worry about anything else," McClung said.

Despite the struggles that have resulted in a 2-9 record and 6.51 ERA, McClung insisted he is not worried about losing his spot in the rotation.

Despite the poor results, manager Joe Maddon said McClung has done some things well.

"We've seen a lot of improvement in his game, seen a lot of improvement in the way he's handling situations," Maddon said.

"When you're trying to make so many different adjustments, you can't necessarily expect it all to happen at once. I just like the professionalism of his last several outings. The stuff is still very good. We have to eliminate that one or two mistakes that really impact the game negatively."

HIT CLUB: James Shields became the 10th Ray to get a hit in his first major-league at-bat and third pitcher. He also is the fourth pitcher to get two hits in a game, joining Tony Saunders , Mickey Callaway and Joe Kennedy .

HOME COOKING: Friday, Maddon's relatives brought him a sack of cold-cut hoagies from Hazleton's Third Base Luncheonette. Saturday, fans he didn't even know brought him another of his hometown delicacies, two boxes of Senape's original pitza. Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta is expected at today's game.

MINOR MATTERS: Doug Waechter had a brutal outing for Durham on Saturday, allowing 10 runs on nine hits and a walk in two-plus innings. ... Upton returned to the Bulls lineup going 1-for-4. ... Edwin Jackson on Friday fell to 2-7 with a 6.05 ERA for the Bulls, losing his fourth straight. ... Reid Brignac hit a three-run walkoff homer for Class A Visalia.

MISCELLANY: The Rays are 5-0 in interleague play. ... Today's game marks the end of a brutal stretch in which the Rays played 20 of 26 on the road. They are 9-16 so far. ... Carl Crawford might make his first start of the season in centerfield today. ... Scott Kazmir struck out nine in five innings, becoming the 23rd left-hander since 1900 to reach 300 before his 23rd birthday. ... Phillies slugger Ryan Howard called the Rays' 3-4 defensive shift weird: "I'd never seen it before. It makes you want to bunt every time." ... Young made an out-of-court financial settlement of less than $10,000 with the umpire he threw his bat at, the Boston Herald reported. Rick Cacciatore plans to buy equipment for the Waltham (Mass.) High baseball team and area youth leagues. ... Rays pitchers had gone a team-record 591/3 innings without allowing a home run until Abraham Nunez 's in the second off Kazmir. ... The Rays hosted Zakki Strunk , an 11-year-old Philadelphia boy who suffers from complex congenital heart disease.