ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.–Troubled Devil Rays prospect Elijah Dukes raised more questions about his future when he was arrested Jan. 15 in Tampa on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession.
Dukes, 22, has been arrested five times previously, including misdemeanor charges of battery and assault. He also has been suspended numerous times by the Devil Rays for a series of on- and off-field incidents, including run-ins with a coach and teammates.
As a result of the arrest, Dukes is likely to be placed in Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program, in which he will undergo additional testing, with any future violations leading to discipline–including suspensions.
Neither Dukes nor the Rays would say much about the incident. But Andre Norman, a Boston based life coach/mentor who had been working with Dukes for several months, said: “It’s definitely a step back. Some things are preventable and some things aren’t, but we were working on this stuff.”
Norman said the Devil Rays recently put the program on hold, and he didn’t know what impact that had on Dukes. “The thing with a guy like Elijah is that he needs constant intervention,” Norman said.
According to Tampa police, Dukes was driving his 2006 Dodge Charger with a 23-year-old male companion and was initially stopped for a loud music violation. Police noted “a distinct odor of marijuana” and a search by a K-9 unit detected the drugs–less than two grams.
According to Tampa police spokesperson Laura McElroy, Dukes said to the officers: “You’re going to arrest me for a little sack of weed?”
Dukes was added to the Devil Rays 40-man roster this winter and is expected to compete for a spot as a reserve outfielder in spring training. The arrest is not expected to affect his standing with the team.