Cardinals Pitching Coach Dave Duncan Taking Leave Of Absence

ST. LOUIS, MO: Pitching coach Dave Duncan #18 of the St. Louis Cardinals meets with Yadier Molina #4, Jaime Garcia #54, and Ryan Theriot #3 also of the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

When Tony La Russa left the St. Louis Cardinals after the franchise won the 2011 World Series, fans could still take heart: hitting coach Mark McGwire and pitching coach Dave Duncan would both return in 2012. And Duncan, in particular, has long been considered La Russa's key assistant, having served as La Russa's primary lieutenant through the future Hall of Fame manager's career.

Thursday night, Ken Rosenthal reported that Duncan is taking a leave of absence from the Cardinals.

Duncan, 66, is leaving the team so he can be with his wife, Jeanine, who underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor on Aug. 21, sources said.

“As far as how long he’ll be gone, no one knows,” Mozeliak said.

--snip--

Duncan missed more than a month after his wife’s surgery last season, but rejoined the team for the final day of the regular season and remained with the club through the Cardinals’ march to the World Series title.

This doesn't sound like real good news for anyone, but beyond that we'll not speculate about Duncan's future or his wife's health. The Cardinals seem to have plenty of talent, but returning to the postseason in 2012 figures to be that much harder with a new manager and a new pitching coach (just-promoted bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist).

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