Washington's hard-hitting right-fielder Elijah Dukes conducted a batting cage interview with MASN tv Analyst Rob Dibble for broadcast before Sunday's series finale against the Florida Marlins in which Dukes talked about his approach at the plate and the changes he's made over the last few months as he's become more and more comfortable and productive offensively for the Nationals.
Rob Dibble: Where does it start for you, does it start before the game looking over some film of a pitcher, does it start in the the on deck circle or when you get in the batter's box?
Elijah Dukes: "We look at film, try to look at the film and try to get an understanding on his pitch selection towards power hitters. You wouldn't necessarily look at him pitching against like a (Nyjer) Morgan, you want try to match yourself up against somebody of your current standards when you're hitting, like I look at Ryan Zimmerman at bats, Willingham at bats, you know, guys with power from the right side, because that's normally how they would pitch me. And, over the last couple games I've been noticing they pitch me and Willingham the same, almost the same, he's going to get a first pitch breaking ball, then I get a first pitch breaking ball, so, I've been kinda learning to hit behind another power hitting guy. I try to learn, like, OK, this is what he's gonna throw, and I try to feed off of that and prepare myself off of that and plus what I saw in the video."
More Dibble And Dukes After The JUMP...
Rob Dibble: You're very quiet. You remind me a lot of Mike Piazza how quiet you are, I mean when you're standing there trying to get your stance a little bit, have you always been that quiet in the batter's box, and, you're kinda almost like a statue, I'm very impressed, cause as a pitcher, you like seeing a guy doing a bunch of stuff cause it almost shows that he's nervous, you just look real confident up there?
Elijah Dukes: No, it kinda started back in the minor leagues, I moved a lot and I was real jumpy, so my coach kinda told me that I'm jumping to the ball, so I try to settle it in, and I try to get my little rhythm going and then I try to slow it up by getting in there and getting in my ready-to-swing base, so I can be ready for the breaking ball, fastball, so, that's what I try to do, I try to shorten up all the movement and stuff, and try to keep it simple and straight to the ball.
Rob Dibble: When you're facing the better pitchers in the major leagues, a Josh Johnson or Johan Santana do you look forward to those kind of at bats, you know, 3-4 at bats against some of the best pitchers in the game?
Elijah Dukes: Yeah, It's always fun going against the best, you know, that's all it is, you know, in order to be the best you gotta beat the best, so, any time you're facing the best pitchers, you're gonna always, you know guys are really gonna rise up, because it's just that guy. I've faced a lot of good pitchers, and I've hit a lot of good pitchers out, and I mean, it feels good, but at the same time, you know that that's the guys you're gonna be facing all the time...so, and nowadays, a lot of guys coming up now, pitchers are coming out of their little funk, and they're having better years and they're getting younger and better early now, so it's real competitive now, and I mean, it's fun to go out there and compete everyday.
Rob Dibble: Quick question, finally, Defense. You've got a rifle for an arm. It was just Roberto Clemente Day, he was a five-tool player, I consider you a five-tool player, is that something you continue to work on, your defense, and throwing people out? You get a lot of assists from the outfield.
Elijah Dukes: Yeah, I take pride in my defense. I always try to work hard to...I really don't like guys, when the ball comes my way, I want them to STOP. You know, that's what I'm working on, working on, just, when it comes my way to just stop. And when you go hard like that, I notice that, you can boot a ball and they'll still stop, because they got that understanding that, they're ain't too many times he's gonna boot the ball and make a bad throw, so that's the type of respect I try to get from the other coaches, so we can minimize the guys going from second to home on a routine ground ball or a hard hit ground ball, you want them to stop at third and that's what I try to work on..."
• Elijah Dukes' '09 Stats...
Elijah SSSSSUPER DUKESSSSS
#34 / Right Field / Washington Nationals
Jun 26, 1984
'09 Stats - 91 G, 305 AB's, 79 H, 19 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR's, 52 RBI, 36 BB, 63 K's, .340 OBP, .420 SLG, .760 OPS, .969 Fld%, 11 A, 6 E's, 1 DP, OPS+ = 99, .303 BABIP, UZR = (-10.6), UZR/150 = (-15.0).
"Elijah Dukes spent some time back in the minors but is now back with the big-league team. Is he the answer at RF? He struggled badly last year before turning it around in the 2nd half of 2008. His play has been inconsistent this year. He was on a hot streak a few weeks ago but now he's in a slump. His average has dipped to .236. He only has 7 HR in 254 AB but he has driven in 45 runs. He has 2 stolen bases but he's been "caught stealing" 8 times. Many of those were actually Dukes getting picked off of 1B."