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Welcome to Viera, Elijah Dukes

Your new Washington Nationals outfielder just finished an approximately 20-minute press conference here at Space Coast Stadium, and I have to say it was an impressive performance, relative to the expectations. He was composed, confident, introspective at times, and seemed genuinely thankful for the opportunity and the support the Nationals are giving him.

A couple of quotes from Elijah before I turn my attention to the .35 cent edition:

*He didn't address specific questions about the issues in his past, but speaking generally, he said: "I was a real hard-headed guy and it was hard for me to listen. I had to admit I did things the wrong away."

*What fans should know about him: "I'm an easy-going guy, a fun-loving guy.... When they get close to me and meet me, it's going to put a smile on their faces."

*He said he has been seeing a psychiatrist for a long time, and, "My intention was to find myself.... I've been working on myself a long time, and now people are going to see the real Elijah Dukes."

*Why it went so wrong in Tampa: "Being young and being at home is not a good thing for someone who probably is not mature enough to handle it."

Obviously, words are only words, and Dukes will have to back them all up with his actions. But it was a good start, and it had Jim Bowden tossing out the same word he used when he saw Nick Johnson take batting practice for the first time earlier this week: "Phenomenal."

That's all for now.

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 20, 2008; 3:32 PM ET
 
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