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Nationals release outfielder Dukes

Elijah Dukes was released by the Washington Nationals Wednesday, a sudden move with 21/2 weeks left in spring training.

"I don't know what to say. It felt a little funny," Dukes told The Associated Press as he packed his car at the team hotel. "I guess I wasn't expecting it . . . That's part of baseball. No big deal, no hard feelings. Just part of the game."

Dukes, 25, was expected to be the Nationals' starting rightfielder this season.

It was the last day the Nationals could put him on waivers and pay him 30 days' termination pay at the minor-league rate of his split contract instead of 45 days at the major-league rate. So he is owed a little under $41,000, instead of about $109,000.

Manager Jim Riggleman, general manager Mike Rizzo and president Stan Kasten all emphasized the move was not connected to any off-the-field issues. Dukes had suspensions in the majors and minors for confrontations with umpires, coaches and teammates while in Tampa Bay's organization, arrests for assault and for marijuana possession, and paternity suits.

"Elijah was great," Riggleman said. "He's done his work. He's got no issues. It's just a baseball decision."

Street parked for now

Rockies closer Huston Street will likely miss the season opener after experiencing tightness in his right shoulder. Street, who had 35 saves last year, has been hampered by inflammation and has yet to throw in an exhibition game. He threw about 25 pitches Monday and said that his arm "felt great" but had discomfort during a throwing session the next day. Street, 26, was scheduled for an MRI Wednesday.

Mariners' Lee suspended

Seattle Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee has been suspended for the first five games of the regular season for throwing a pitch over the head of Arizona's Chris Snyder in an exhibition game this week.

Dykstra sues over property deal

Former Met and Phillie Lenny Dykstra has sued JP Morgan Chase & Co. Inc. for $100 million, saying he didn't get the loan he needed when he bought Wayne Gretzky's California home. Dykstra brought the lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan over the property dispute.

The lawsuit said he and his wife bought the property in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in March 2007 for $17.4 million but the bank reneged on a pledge to refinance. - AP


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