Ex-Nat Dukes says teammates brought drugs on plane

Ex-Nat Dukes says teammates brought drugs on plane
February 12, 2011, 3:36 pm
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Saturday, February 12, 2011, 10:32 a.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
CSNwashington.com

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When the Nationals released Elijah Dukes last spring, it was appropriate to wonder whether the talented-but-troubled outfielder would ever get another opportunity to play in the major leagues.

Nearly one year later, that opportunity has yet to come, and it's pretty clear it will never come for Dukes, who at 26 is now embarking on entirely new journey: as an aspiring rapper.

The Tampa Tribune has a fascinating story online this morning about Dukes, who is trying to make a name for himself as rapper Fly Eli and also opens up about his final days with the Nationals. Dukes claims he sometimes smoked marijuana before games and that teammates (he wouldn't name who) sometimes brought marijuana and cocaine on the team's charter plane.

Dukes told the Tribune he believes his abrupt release by the Nationals in March came about only because he told a psychiatrist assigned to him as part of Major League Baseball's employee assistance program about the drug allegations. He believes he's been "blackballed" by baseball since; other than a brief stint with the independent Newark Bears last summer, he has not played for any other organized club.

MLB insists Dukes never told the psychiatrist about taking or transporting drugs. The Nationals wouldn't comment. Upon releasing Dukes last spring, general manager Mike Rizzo said it was a "performance-based decision," adding that "there are things that happen in the clubhouse on the periphery that are clubhouse matters."

Mark Zuckerman covers the Nationals full-time for CSNwashington.com. He also blogs about the team at natsinsider.com. You can reach him at mzuckerman@comcastsportsnet.com.