The Nationals released outfielder Elijah Dukes, according to a team press release. According to a tweet from MASN's Ben Goessling, the move had nothing to do with off-the-field issues. This is very surprising news, as Dukes projected as the team's starting right fielder and has a minor league option left. Goessling talked to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, who said the team made many attempts to trade Dukes but could not find an interested team (Twitter link). Dukes' time with Washington was marked by injuries and a disappointing '09 season.
Dukes, 25, hit .250/.337/.393 in 416 plate appearances last year, playing a below-average right and center field (according to UZR). He also played 22 games in the minors. Dukes has avoided off-the-field problems since Jim Bowden acquired him from the Rays in December of '07, with a June '08 dugout confrontation with Manny Acta probably his worst offense. Just a couple of weeks ago Goessling noted that the Nationals had "taken the reins off Dukes -- letting his personal adviser go and allowing him more freedom with the media."