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10/09/07 7:07 PM ET

Dukes to play in Winter League

Devil Rays say troubled outfielder is making strides

ST. PETERSBURG -- Elijah Dukes is headed to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball for Licey.

"Elijah continues to make great strides," said Andrew Friedman, Devil Rays executive vice president of baseball operation. "We're still at the point in the process where it would be premature to elaborate much more, but we feel like he is at the stage where it's appropriate for him to go out and play some in the Winter League and take it from there."

After a series of domestic problems, coupled with a history of anger-related issues, Dukes was optioned to the Minor Leagues in June and placed on the temporary inactive list.

Dukes, a 22-year-old rookie outfielder, began the season in center field for the Rays. But his season began to go downhill after a May 23 St. Petersburg Times report alleged he threatened to kill his estranged wife and their children.

Later in the summer, Dukes called a Tampa radio station to defend himself and his family while making accusations against his wife. After that episode, Rays officials took a stance that made it clear they felt Dukes had become a distraction and placed him on the temporary inactive list. He did not play for the Rays again during the 2007 season.

Dukes hit .190 with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs in 52 games.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.