ST. PETERSBURG -- Elijah Dukes made his Major League debut Monday against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium and homered in his first official Major League at-bat. The Devil Rays rookie followed it up with a home run in his second game Thursday against the Yankees. Dukes has experienced a whirlwind week in his first week in the Major Leagues and talked about the experience, among other things, with MLB.com reporter Bill Chastain.
MLB.com: What were your initial thoughts when you walked onto the field at Yankee Stadium on Monday to make your Major League debut?
Dukes: Overall it was a great feeling I had just being in the big leagues. Then just to be in Yankee Stadium, where you feel a presence. You know it's historic. They have had a lot of great players on the team. It was a good feeling just to be able to play at the same level where Derek Jeter and A-Rod and those guys are playing at. You're always going to get very enthusiastic about the game, because you want to win, just like everybody else wants to do.
MLB.com: At any point did you feel intimidated by your surroundings?
Dukes: No, I never got intimidated, I just had a great feeling about to be able to play alongside some great players and future Hall of Famers.
MLB.com: What was going on inside you during that first at-bat?
Dukes: Whatever has been going on inside of me during any other at-bat, from low A ball on up. I just wanted to see good pitches and try to work the count a little bit and find a pitch to hit.
MLB.com: No nervousness or emotion at that point?
Dukes: No. Only time I ever got nervous was on draft day. Any time after that, all it's been is, "Play ball." I've never gotten nervous about playing ball, or going up to bat, or being in the outfield. I just try to go out there and stay the same.
MLB.com: After walking your first time up, you hit a home run in your second at-bat, what was that like rounding the bases?
Dukes: It was a great feeling. All I could think of was that I had finally made it to the big leagues. That was for my kids. (Note: Dukes has children ages three, two and one).
MLB.com: What was it like when you got back to the dugout after your home run?
Dukes: It was good. Everybody is rooting for each other on this team. So it's a great feeling to meet and greet with everybody.
MLB.com: Were you able to get the home run ball?
Dukes: Yes. I had hit it over the wall where the fans didn't have a chance to get it. So they were able to give me the ball.
MLB.com: After you first day in the Major Leagues you had an off-day in New York City, not a bad place to be on your off-day. Did you have fun?
Dukes: I was hanging out with my family. We went out to eat, went bowling. Had a great time. There are a million restaurants. We went to Red Lobster and ended up going to the ESPNZone.
MLB.com: Was game two in New York as cold as you've been in a baseball game?
Dukes: That was the coldest game I've ever been in. That's the coldest weather I've ever been in.
MLB.com: You homered again in game two. Did any part of you start to believe the Major Leagues weren't that hard?
Dukes: No. You can never say something is easier. The only thing easy is holding up a microphone and asking questions. That's about as easy as it gets. When you're playing baseball, nothing comes easy. You've got to work for it.
MLB.com: Everybody talks about making adjustments as a hitter. But what have you noticed on the defensive side?
Dukes: Here you've got guys who can hit it anywhere, left or right, so you've always got to be making that adjustment according to the pitch count. And just the pitchers, you know? And the fields are great. It's very level, and you don't have any hills or stuff like that. Stadiums are nice.
MLB.com: Off the field, what has been the thing you've enjoyed the most, or noticed the most, about being in the Major Leagues?
Dukes: You don't have to do as much (as far as carrying your own luggage, etc.) and stuff like that. But probably it's the people around you. They're so helpful and stuff. Our clubhouse staff is the best by far. A lot of people respect them. You can sit and have conversation with these guys real easy. And they do a great job. That's been very helpful.
MLB.com: After the first week, is there anything you can see that you want to improve on specifically?
Dukes: Every day you just try to make adjustments on everything. I always try to get better at everything I do. Whether it's taking more pop flies, or rounding the bag. You always want to get better at stuff. There's still a lot of things I have to work on like running the bases. Sometimes I get tripped up a bit rounding the bags. I've got to make that adjustment to my baserunning.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.