Devil Rays OF Elijah Dukes returned to the lineup last night after a bit of unpleasantness earlier in the week, and homered in Tampa’s 5-4 loss to the White Sox. To hear the St. Petersburg Times’ Gary Shelton tell the tale, Dukes shouldn’t have been in uniform.

It has been days now since the accusations, and the Rays have come across as passive and meek. Dukes returned to the lineup Friday night after two days off.

Come on, I would say to Stuart Sternberg, the employer: Draw a line in the sand.

What should the Rays do with Dukes? Should they release him, suspend him, demote him? Perhaps.

The first thing they should do is find out the truth. Dukes has yet to deny the accusations. The Rays should ask him what happened. Then they can proceed.

If Sternberg ever wants to suggest there is a bond between a community and a team, this is the time to show it.

Perhaps Sternberg should listen to Lee Chimos, a safety advocate for CASA who survived seven and a half years of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband.

Along the way, Lee had both legs broken, as well as her wrist, several fingers, her ribs, her nose and her jaw. At one point, thinking he had killed her, her ex-husband buried her in a shallow grave beside their garage. He told her that if she left him, he would murder her son and her parents.

On Thursday night, Lee watched a TV report of Dukes swearing at a cameraman. She was so angry she screamed at her set.

Here is what Lee would say to Sternberg:

“Stuart, I think you need to rethink what the Devil Rays are portraying to the public. Why would you put up with this? Because you win a few more games? At what cost? At the cost of his wife being murdered? His children? We could be looking at another O.J. Simpson situation here. Baseball is an American pastime. Evidently, that goes hand in hand with domestic violence.

– Lee”

Shelton goes on to say that he’d like to “scream at Donald Fehr”, anticipating some kind of union appeal when and if Dukes is suspended. No pointing in waiting for said punative action, I suppose.

Speaking of the strong ties between baseball and domestic violence, Atlanta skipper Bobby Cox followed an ejection in Friday’s 8-3 loss to Philly with another early shower in this afternoon’s 6-4 Philly victory. For Cox, it was career ejection no. 130, while John Smoltz — a non-participant in today’s game — was also run for yelling at Ron Kulpa over the disputed fair/foul ball call in the 3rd.

While the Phillies are said to be interested in Troy Percieval, Antonio Alfonseca earned his first save in almost 5 years with a scoreless 9th inning.

The Mets’ Shawn Green fractured a bone in his right foot
in last night’s 6-2 dispatch of the Fish. With Carlos Gomez scheduled to start this evening, Ben Johnson is just a heartbeat away from making his Mets debut.