Devil Rays grant Dukes a "personal day" off
By FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer
June 13, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Troubled Tampa Bay outfielder Elijah Dukes was not in uniform for the Devil Rays game Wednesday night against San Diego following another wave of media reports detailing his problems off the field.
Manager Joe Maddon said the 22-year-old rookie was given a "personal day" and would not be at Tropicana Field after it was revealed that a pregnant 18-year-old girl is claiming that Dukes is the father of her unborn child.
The St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune reported the girl was 17 at the time she said she became pregnant while in the foster care of one of Dukes' relatives, but that investigators concluded no laws were broken.
Under Florida law, adults up to the age of 23 are allowed to have consensual sex with 16- and 17-year-olds.
"He's not going to be here today and we're going to play one man short. ... We gave him a personal day, and we're going to leave it at that," Maddon said, adding that vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman had informed him that Dukes would not be at the ball park.
Friedman was not available for comment before Wednesday night's game, but issued a one sentence statement.
"After conversations with Elijah and his agent today, the organization approved elijah's absence tonight," Friedman said.
Dukes was benched for two games last month after his estranged wife sought a restraining order after being threatened by the player, who later apologized to his family, the team and fans for the distraction caused by his situation off the field.
Delmon Young was shifted from right field to center in Dukes' absence. Maddon said he was not sure if Dukes would return Thursday for the finale of a three-game series against the Padres.
"I have to talk to Andrew more about that to really understand what we're going to do and what's going on with the whole situation," Maddon said.
Dukes, who has started 46 games, is hitting .193 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs.