- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 7, 2008

Elijah Dukes‘ first home run with the Washington Nationals was an emotional moment, both for the young outfielder and for his team, which beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-9 in 10 innings.

But did Dukes show a little too much emotion upon hitting Ryan Franklin’s 2-2 pitch over the center-field fence Thursday night at Nationals Park?

Plate umpire Doug Eddings apparently thought so and wasn’t happy that Dukes turned and thumped his chest after hitting the ball several pitches after showing frustration with a borderline strike call. Dukes also appeared to gesture toward Eddings just before he crossed the plate after rounding the bases.

Nationals manager Manny Acta said word got back to him Eddings wasn’t pleased.

“He showed some emotions that he wasn’t very happy,” Acta said. “And at the end of the game, I learned about some of that stuff. He was thinking about talking to me, and he declined at the end.”

Acta had no problem with Dukes’ actions.

“We want to see emotions as long as you’re not showing anybody up,” the manager said. “He showed emotion, and I don’t think he offended anybody.”

Dukes, through a team spokesman, declined to comment before Friday’s game, but he admitted being fired up about the strike call Thursday night.

“When the umpire made the call, I disagreed with it, but it kind of also just helped me get more aggressive,” he said. ” … It just kind of gave me a little energy because it was like, ‘All right, I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to step it up because that’s one strike right there.’”

Draft finishes

The baseball draft concluded Friday with rounds seven to 50. The Nationals finished with eight right-handed pitchers, 13 left-handers, four catchers, 11 infielders and 14 outfielders.

After selecting outfielder Destin Hood (second round), shortstop Daniel Espinosa (third) and catchers Adrian Nieto (fifth) and Daniel Killian (seventh), the organization believes it has taken strides toward bolstering a system weak in offense.

“We’ve put into the system last year several bats that we like and highly endorse. This year we did the same thing,” assistant general manager Mike Rizzo said. “When you look at hitters like Espinoza, Nieto and some of the later picks, these are all good players and have had success at every level down the road.”

Washington drafted four players with local ties: outfielder Marcus Jones (a D.C. native who went to the Landon School in Bethesda), shortstop Steve Lombardozzi (from Columbia), left-hander Scott Silverstein (from Brookville, Md.) and third baseman Ronnie Labrie (from Vinton, Va.).

Extra bases

The Nationals are expected to promote a pair of right-handers from Class AAA Columbus to start the final two games of this series. Garrett Mock is slated to make his big league debut Sunday, filling the spot held by veteran Odalis Perez (who has shoulder tendinitis). Tyler Clippard would start Monday in place of John Lannan, who pitched in Thursday’s doubleheader and would have to come back on short rest to make his scheduled start. …

An MRI taken on Columbus left-hander Matt Chico revealed loose bone fragments in his throwing elbow. Chico will be evaluated in the District and could face surgery.

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