Commentary

Spring training position battles

A daily rundown of the MLB competitions for playing time in March and April

Updated: March 17, 2010, 5:47 PM ET
By Jason Catania, Charles Curtis and Doug Mittler | ESPN Insider

Washington Nationals: Right Field

UPDATE: According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, if the Nats decide to look at outside options to take over right field duties for the recently-released Elijah Dukes, they may be interested in free agent Jermaine Dye, who has yet to find a home despite hitting 27 HRs and knocking in 81 last year. The 36-year-old would be a liability in the field, but his bat would certainly help Washington.

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Nats need to replace Dukes: Right field in the nation's capital suddenly became an open competition Wednesday when the Nationals made the surprising decision to release Elijah Dukes.

Dukes has a controversial past, but manager Jim Riggleman insists that the release was strictly a baseball decision. The 25-year-old was just 3-for-20 this spring, but is still viewed as a player with enormous potential.

According to The Washington Post, the Nats would like to have a platoon in right field and list Justin Maxwell, Roger Bernadina, Mike Morse and Willie Harris as possible candidates. The sentimental favorite could be Maxwell, a native of nearby Maryland who hit .247 with four homers in a 40-game audition last season.

Eric Karabell

The fantasy fallout of Duke's departure

"What's interesting about Dukes' release, in fantasy terms, is that I don't really see an obvious winner from the outfielders who remain in the Nationals' organization, except maybe one guy, and he's struggling. One would think a strong spring from someone like Justin Maxwell guarantees him opportunities, but this perpetual, toolsy tease is hitting .115 so far, with 12 strikeouts in 26 at bats. Of course, he also has a home run and three stolen bases. He's still only 26, even though we've seemingly been discussing his potential for three or four years now. "



To see more position battles -- including who will replace Elijah Dukes for the Nationals -- you must be an ESPN Insider.

Doug Mittler

Rumor Central