Maddon said it was time ....
Elijah Dukes returned to the Devil Rays lineup on Friday because manager Joe Maddon felt it was the right time. Dukes had not played since the report in Wednesday's Times in which Dukes' estranged wife claimed that he threatened to kill her and their kids.
After Dukes sat out the Wednesday and Thursday games, Maddon said he went back-and-forth on the decision before deciding to put Dukes in the lineup, playing centerfield and batting leadoff.
“I just want get back to playing baseball and put this thing behind us,'' Maddon said. "Believe me, a lot of thought has gone into this. I won’t deny that I’ve lost sleep over it – I have. It’s a very important decision, I think, and I did not take it lightly. But I felt today was the right day to move it along and have him start to participate again and see if we can get some normalcy.''
To keep Dukes - who has not been charged with a crime or disciplined by the team on the bench again, Maddon said, "then this could build into something a little more than it needs to be right now."
Maddon said that the team being on the road was a factor but not the prime one in his decision, that he made in consultation with executive VP Andrew Friedman. But Maddon also acknowledged that Dukes may get some tough treatment from what he described as a "very aware" Chicago fan base, but said Dukes would have to deal with it.
"Again, it’s getting back to normal, and he has to be able to handle the situation,'' Maddon said. "You can only hold hands so often and then it’s at the point where people have to deal with things on their own. So he’s going to have to go out there and deal with it too.''