Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Elijah Dukes--Focused

Elijah Dukes is one the most talented players on the 2010 Roster of Our Washington Nationals. Nats320 has stated this before, we believe he's a five-tool player. Our Number 34 can hit, hit with power, run, field and throw. He's just never put it all together in a single season. The African Queen and I caught up with Elijah Dukes this afternoon in Viera, Florida. And as usual, Dukes was honest about everything on his mind--especially when it comes to his baseball career. Since we first met him two years ago, Elijah has been nothing but a pleasure to speak with. Today's chat, just enhanced our opinions.

There is a lot riding on this upcoming season for you. You are out of options and you are eligible for arbitration next year. Has that focused you on bringing the best out of your abilities? (Nats320)

“Well, I am first looking to stay healthy. That has been a problem in the past. I want to go into arbitration with good numbers (next year). And I really just want to help the team win--that’s become the most important thing.”

Many have said what you need to do better is hit the curve ball. (Nats320)


Have you been practicing on overcoming that? (Nats320)

“It’s not hitting the curve ball. I can recognize curve balls. I can hit curve balls good. Consistently, I swing at the bad curve balls. The balls in the dirt. Nine times out of ten, those thrown balls are balls and I swing at them.”

We noticed today and even over the past few days, Rick Eckstein (Hitting Coach) is talking with you. You guys are talking about a lot of things. What are you guys discussing? (Nats320)

“I am working on my hand slot. I need to stay in a good position to hit the ball and keep my body in position to drive the ball. So that is what we talk about every single day. We are working together to get things to click better. I am working on dropping my hands (in the set position at the plate). They used to be set higher. I need to be more consistent with my approach and I think we are going to get there.”

Fielding and throwing wise--you are pretty happy with that part of your game? (Nats320)

“I am pretty happy with that. Although, I always say I am never satisfied. I not only need to throw the guys out (on the bases) but also keep my throw down so the infielders can handle the ball and the runners don’t take an extra base. That is the most important thing.”

You are a veteran now, what do you need to prove to be a good major league player? (Nats320)

“I wouldn’t say I am considered a good major league player yet. It is always the goal to get better every single year. You have to improve every single year in order to either maintain what you have or become better. That is what I attempt to do every year and especially this season.”

You’ve also always been injury prone. You are muscular, a big athletic body. Is that something you will have to always deal with in your career? And can you overcame that? (Nats320)

(Chuckling) “Yeah, I think so. I have a lot of weight to carry around. So I need to make sure I can stay healthy on the field by doing all the exercises and following the work with the trainers.”

So then, goals looking forward--a big year in your career? (Nats320)

“Yeah, it is. I want to hit 30 (homers) and get 100 (rbi’s) so I can feed my Mom real good!!”

You are serious? This is going to be the breakout year? (Nats320)

“It should be. I want it to be too. I am focused. I have waited for this moment my entire life. I’ve wanted it to happen every year. That’s the thing, I have put too much emphasis on doing just that (to his detriment). I think I am going to go out this year and just play and just hope everything falls into place.”

You just said something very interesting--you believe you have put too much pressure on yourself? (Nats320)

“I have probably done just that. I know I have done that to myself. I am now getting better at handling pressure and not putting so much pressure on myself that I fail. Now it’s more, if I do everything right at the plate, I will hit more home runs. They will come. If I do everything right with my glove, I will get the assists and the catches I need.”

That’s a maturity level worth recognizing. (Nats320)

“Thank you. I am trying very hard. I really am.”

Dukes Photo Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


SenatorNat said...

A player could not handle an interview better - there is much to like about Mr. Dukes. I am one, among many, who root for him.

Trust in Maturation. And the Dukes of Summer. All watching...

Unknown said...

I've been pulling for Dukes ever since we got him from Tampa, so I'm happy to see that he understands how important this year is for him. Of all the players on our team (other than Zim) I think he has the most superstar potential, and this could be his last season to realize it.