Thursday, January 3, 2008

Nats 'Larkin' Back to Better Days

We're not going to into the details of the troubles that Elijah Dukes has run into his life. It would take too much time and too much bandwidth. Dukes was dealt to the Nats on December 3 after the Rays could no longer put up with his shenanigans. Now the Nats are taking a proactive approach to giving Dukes an attitude adjustment.

GM Jim Bowden has brought in his former shortstop Barry Larkin to mentor Dukes prior to spring training. Ironically, Larkin had never heard of Dukes prior to Bowden's quest for help. Now Larkin is working with Dukes on every aspect of the game, both on and off the field.
"It's a matter of showing this guy some love. That makes for a very healthy environment to compete and do well regardless of what your personal issues are or may have been," Larkin said. "He smiles when he is here. I think he really enjoys it. I want him to be ready for Spring Training and be in shape. This guy is a physical monster -- strong, fast, quick and all that kind of stuff. He is a stud."
Larkin feels Dukes, who is still just 23, has the potential to be a 30-30 (HRs-SB) player.
"Physically, he is strong enough to hit 30 to 40 home runs. He's probably fast enough to steal 30 to 40 bases. Physically, this dude is gifted," Larkin said. "I think it will be important that he feels like part of [the team] early as it is with any young player that has been traded."
Mentoring is nothing new to Larkin who worked with several of his younger Reds' teammates while in Cincinnati. Larkin's professionalism throughout his career is just one of the reasons he could be a future manager.


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