The guys over at Nationals Enquirer directed my attention to this Tampa Tribune story about former Rays and Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes. Seems that Dukes is now a rapper known as “Fly Eli.” He’s got an album ready to drop, as the kids say, and has concerts scheduled and all of that. Oh, and like Jose Canseco, he believes Major League Baseball has blackballed him:
In several interviews, including one at his home and one at the studio, Dukes talked about how the police are out to get him, the difficulties of being a black athlete in Tampa and how he was “thrown under the bus” by Major League Baseball.
He says he was blackballed by baseball after he came forward last year with allegations that fellow ball players were smuggling drugs onto chartered aircraft, using drugs in hotel rooms after flights and how he would sometimes smoke marijuana before home games when he played for the Washington Nationals.
Maybe Elijah Dukes was exposing wrongdoing. But Dukes was also given a bunch of chances by Major League Baseball and he always — always — ended up alienating his teammates or worse. There was promise there once, but he was never worth the baggage, and I find it rather hard to believe that baseball went after Elijah Dukes the whistleblower as opposed to simply cutting ties with Elijah Dukes the enormous pain in the ass.
But hey, good luck storming the hip-hop charts, Fly Eli.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.