Nats rekindle interest in Rays' Dukes

Nats rekindle interest in Rays' Dukes

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have rekindled interest in Devil Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes, according to a baseball source with knowledge of the situation. The news was first reported by late Sunday night. It's not known what the Devil Rays want in return.

Dukes, 22, is a player the Nationals have coveted since the 2005 offseason, and the two teams have been talking for more than a week, according to the source. Dukes is considered a player with a lot of upside on the field, but he comes with a lot of baggage off it. The St. Petersburg Times reported last month that Dukes' estranged wife filed a restraining order against him. Dukes also has been suspended in the Minor Leagues for bad behavior.

Entering Tuesday's action, Dukes, who is in his first year in the big leagues, is hitting .196 with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs in 48 games for the Devil Rays. In fact, he is 2-for-31 in his last eight games.

If Dukes were to join the Nationals, it would mean two things: Dukes would most likely play center field, which would end the Ryan Langerhans/Nook Logan experiment, and general manager Jim Bowden would be giving a second chance to another player. Dmitri Young, Ron Gant and Eric Davis are three examples of players who took advantage of Bowden's generosity and thrived on the baseball diamond. When reached by phone, Bowden would not confirm nor deny that the Nationals are interested in Dukes.

"I'm not going to [talk about] any trade discussions that we are having," Bowden said. "I think it's fair to say that we talk to almost every team in baseball on a regular basis. I'm not going to confirm nor deny any discussions that are out there, except to say that we are not close to any trade with any player at this point."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.