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Dukes Escapes Friedman's Freezer

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Per Lancaster

BALTIMORE--Elijah Dukes found a new way to fill his time away from the Devil Rays, coaching first base Monday night for the independent Charlotte County Redfish of the South Coast League.

The Redfish are managed by former major-leaguer Cecil Fielder, who is close to Rays special adviser Fred McGriff. McGriff wanted to put Dukes and Fielder together for a couple of days just to talk baseball and the Rays signed off on the idea--though the brief coaching stint was unplanned. Dukes told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune he planned to return to Port Charlotte for tonight's game and bring some equipment to give to Redfish players.

Word is the troubled outfielder has been receptive to counseling sessions he has participated in since being optioned to the minors and placed on the inactive list on June 22. Dukes told a Herald-Tribune reporter Monday night that he has learned from his time away from the game and plans to return bigger and better than ever next season.

I have to wonder why Fred McGriff wasn't involved earlier in the Dukes case, I'm not saying that Dukes would've listened, but McGriff was one of the best men to play the game in recent memory.