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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
"It was a form of a distraction, there was no question when you have to switch your concentration and answer those questions every day. ... I wish him well and hope it works out; I really do. But right now I'm concerned about these 25 people right here." Manager Joe Maddon
"The most important thing for all of us is for him to get his personal life in order. The baseball part of this is secondary." Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman
"You never want to see someone's career take a turn like that so early. ... He has all the potential in the world and he can be that kind of player everybody thinks he can be. Things didn't really work out over here. Hopefully, he'll get another chance to do it somewhere else." Rays outfielder Carl Crawford
"We hope that he can get back on his feet. He's got the support of all of us in here because we want the best for him. Here's a guy who's got a great heart and we know that because we interact with him on a daily basis. ... We just wish him the best in the world and the life he deserves." Rays first baseman Carlos Pena
"I don't think it was harsh enough. I know they can't release him because of the money, so in a way I'm okay with it, in that they're not rewarding him by letting him stay here. But he's an adult, not a child, and he should act like an adult and what he did was completely wrong. I've been in a relationship where I experienced the kind of things that went on with him, so I think he deserves whatever he has coming. If it was up to me, he'd be released." Fan Amarilys Velez, St. Petersburg
"I think it was probably the right thing to do. I'm for stronger rules. People in the big leagues should know better. They're role models and they should try to be better role models." Fan Dan Demars, Orlando
"He needs more help as a man than he does as a baseball player. The thing is, they took away baseball, which is the only structure in his life." Fan Rob Sistrunk, Williston
"I have followed the Elijah Dukes saga over the last several months in your newspaper. It's sad to see a promising young man slowly lose an opportunity of a lifetime. I also feel sorry for the Devil Rays organization. How much counseling is appropriate before cutting all ties? Sympathy for Dukes may be hard to find in the Tampa Bay area. ... I, like many others, feel that he was rewarded for his talent, but threw it all away, just because he couldn't stay out of trouble." Fan Lori Lee, Brooksville
FROM THE BLOGS
"While Dukes has made some poor decisions, the Devil Rays have made even worse decisions. Management does not know how to create a positive atmosphere in the locker room or support their players. Every ex-player always says that the worst part of their career was the time spent in Tampa. The D-Rays need to reward and encourage players (i.e. make Crawford a captain or actively campaign for players to make the All-Star team) when they behave positively, and I think we'll see less negative things from players, both current and past. Management needs to work harder on making Tampa Bay a place that elite players want to play."
"This is a 22-year-old kid who made some bad decisions and has issues with the media. Chances are good that he will mature and get past anger problems and be a productive player. I have a hard time watching a newspaper vilify a kid ... Remember being 22?"
"Well done, for the team and very probably for Dukes. I think his only hope is to get away from the Tampa Bay environment. ... If he's wildly successful elsewhere, I'll be very surprised, but not really resentful. I think in his current situation he had practically zero chance of succeeding."