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Cards pitching coach Dave Duncan taking leave of absence

Jan 5, 2012, 9:44 PM EDT

dave duncan getty Getty Images

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is taking a leave of absence from the team to be with his wife, who underwent surgery in August of last year to remove a brain tumor.

“As far as how long he’ll be gone, no one knows,” Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said Thursday night.

The Cardinals’ front office is expected to make a formal announcement on Friday morning, with more details on the matter and perhaps some news about a temporary replacement.

Duncan is widely regarded as the best pitching coach in Major League Baseball. He worked alongside recently-retired manager Tony La Russa for 28 seasons with three different organizations.

UPDATE, 9:24 PM: Two St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters, Joe Strauss and Bernie Miklasz, are hearing that Duncan is stepping down from his job for good, not taking a leave of absence.

UPDATE, 9:29 PM: Miklasz says Duncan “will remain linked to the organization in another capacity,” and that bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist is expected to be promoted to the role of pitching coach.

UPDATE, 9:44 PM: According to’s Matthew Leach, it is indeed being termed as a “leave of absence” by the Cardinals, who have released a short statement:


  1. cur68 - Jan 5, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    Good luck Mr & Mrs Duncan.

    • randygnyc - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:33 AM

      We may not see this genius again on the mound. I suspect he’ll remain by his wife’s side until the end, however long that may take. Afterwards, his return will depend on his frame of mind and if he battles depression.

      All of this just reinforces the importance of spending quality time with your loved ones when you have the chance. Everything else is just small potatoes. Good luck to the Duncan’s.

      • 78mu - Jan 6, 2012 at 8:18 AM

        At the start of the WS last year KMOX in St. Louis interviewed Bob Forsch on the radio from his home in Florida. He was asked if he was going to come to St. Louis for the series and he answered that he’d only been home for a short time since he was the pitching coach for the Reds team in Billings and wanted to rest with his family.

        Fortunately he made it for the series and got to hear the cheers one last time before his unexpected death. But while we all look forward to the pitchers and catchers reporting, for a lot of guys like Forsch it means many months away from their family.

        Duncan has been in baseball as a player or coach since 1963, He’s never had a summer since that he hasn’t spent at least half his nights sleeping somewhere other than his house. I think he owes his wife more time than he’ll ever be able to give her and I applaud his decision.

  2. dwrek5 - Jan 5, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    She has never played or coached, but as a mom and a wife she has given just as much of her life to baseball. Forever part of the baseball family. Get well soon!

    • 78mu - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:04 AM

      There’s a great picture of the two of them walking off arm in arm after game 7 last year at the Post-Dispatch site.

  3. okwhitefalcon - Jan 5, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Miklasz is reporting bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist will be promoted to pitching coach.

    • okwhitefalcon - Jan 5, 2012 at 9:35 PM

      Check that, Miklasz is “speculating” not reporting as fact.

  4. fearlessleader - Jan 5, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    This is a sweet story about the family and the way they’ve rallied around Jeanine during her illness, for those who are interested:

    Regardless of whether this goes down as a sabbatical or a retirement, the Cards will find ways to keep Dave Duncan in the family if they possibly can; his home isn’t far away, he’s clearly still got a passion for the job, and he’s the best in the business.

    I’m thinking a 10-year personal services contract, perhaps…..

    But seriously, thanks for everything, Dave, and best wishes to Jeanine.

  5. 78mu - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    It will be strange to look in the dugout this season and not see both Tony and Duncan.

    If it helps her get better his time will be better spent with his wife than making sure Westbrook gets his sinker working.

  6. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    My prayers are with Dave and his family during this difficult time. Dave defined the position of pitching coach. I’m guessing that Cardinals will find a way to keep as part as the organization for as long as Dave wants.

  7. mianfr - Jan 6, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    Good for him. Hope his family can find peace and comfort, and it’s only because of his love of baseball that he isn’t just continuing an indefinite leave.

  8. stex52 - Jan 6, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    A big loss for the Cards. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t regard him as the premier talent at his job.

    Having said that, I would have made exactly the same choice he did. All the best to the Duncan family.

  9. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 6, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    The Duncan family is in my thoughts. I’m hoping for the best.

  10. okwhitefalcon - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Chris Duncan has been tweeting up a storm about the situation,

    The family seems to be in great spirits and sounding positive about Mrs..Duncan’s outlook, very encouraging.

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