Washington Nationals fans entered Spring Training 2010 with a lot of hopes and expectations. One of those expectations was likely not that the Nationals would award potential starting outfielder Elijah Dukes his outright release before the season even started. Yet, the club did just that in March and the troubled outfielder could not find a major league team that would even give him a minor league contract.
Seven months into the season and few around Nats Town question if the move was the right decision. Dukes was given several years to develop at the Major League level, and while he had developed as a grown-up, his game showed little progress. In his stead the Nats may have found a gem in rookie Roger Bernadina who is hitting a respectable .270/.331/.418, and the club drafted a corner outfielder of the future in Bryce Harper.
Yet still people have to wonder, what the hell happened to Dukes? How could he go from a potential starting outfielder for the Nationals to not even a minor league player on any other MLB organization? While his behavior had been questionable through his earl career, why did no one even take a chance on his talent?
We may never know.
After initially being reluctant to play in the independent league, Dukes signed with the Newark Bears at the beginning of July. Since he has been on a tear (which I assume is to be expected), hitting .367 with 5 homers and 18 RBI in 25 games. However, what’s much more interesting, is the motley crew of former MLB players he joins in Newark:
Manager – Tim Rock Raines
CL – Armando Benitez 22 IP 7 SV 0.82 ERA
1B – Carl Everett .281 BA 9 HR 38 RBI
OF – Daryle Ward .295 BA 14 HR 71 RBI
OF – Tim Raines JR. .300 BA
IF – Eric Munson .182 BA, 4 HR 7 RBI
If the Bears are looking for a set up man, I hear John Rocker is available.