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Dukes involved in incident in Dominican game



Dukes Elijah Dukes apparently hasn't calmed down that much.

The troubled outfielder had been enjoying what Rays officials have said was a seemingly quiet and successful return to the field with the Licey team in the Dominican Republic - until Thursday night.

Dukes reacted angrily after being called out on strikes in the ninth inning and was ejected after going chest-to-chest with the umpire, and had to be restrained by several teammates at different times.

"It got a little ugly,'' said Jesus Campos, VP of baseball operations for the host Gigantes team. "If it wasn't for (teammate) Andy Tracy holding him back, things could have gotten a lot worse. ... It definitely wasn't a safe situation for the umpire because (Dukes) is a big guy.''

(Watch the video of part of the incident here. Scroll ahead to about 5:25.)

Dukes - who had been dropped from the Rays roster in June after a series of off-field and personal problems and confrontations, including accusations he threatened his estranged wife and children  - had a rough night overall.

He had words with the opposing catcher, objected to a strike call in his first at-bat, then was hit by a pitch his next time up and flung his bat to the ground, and on his way to first made a somewhat suggestive gesture to the typically rowdy crowd, which had been jeering him. It's not uncommon for fans at these games to scream and throw bottles on the field while player ejections aren't as rare as in American baseball.

Campos said he wouldn't be surprised if Dukes was suspended for his actions.

"He needs to grow up,'' Campos said. "His body and ability, it looks like it's there. He's a big man, but he has a long way to mature."

Dukes returned to the Licey lineup Thursday for the first time in 12 days. In 18 games he is hitting .236 (13-for-55) with 2 homers and 6 RBIs and 4 steals. He has struck out 21 times and walked 11 times.

Rays officials have said they hadn't decided if Dukes would return to the team next spring, but that he had been doing well. With the trade of RF Delmon Young, Dukes would have a chance for considerable playing time if he was on the team.

Rays officials were not aware of the incident.

"We are not able to properly comment until we have had a chance to speak with Elijah and officials from the Licey ball club,'' Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said.

Earlier Friday during a media session at Tropicana Field, Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman was asked about Dukes' overall status and said he had been doing well.

"We're doing a lot of work with him and feel like he's made a lot of positive strides,'' Friedman said. "There's still a lot of things that would have to happen from our standpoint for us to count on him, and it's Nov. 30 and there's a lot of off-season to go.''

-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA and MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writers

(Photo -- Licey TV, YouTube. Click to enlarge.)

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:33am]


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