Duncan to Step Aside as Cards Pitching Coach

Dave Duncan, one of Major League Baseball's top pitching coaches of all time, is leaving his job - at least temporarily.

The St. Louis Cardinals will once again be without pitching coach Dave Duncan, as the 66-year-old is taking a leave of absence from the club. The news was first reported by FOX Sports.com's Ken Rosenthal on Thursday evening after the reporter spoke with Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.

Shortly after, the club issued a formal release stating that Duncan has taken an indefinite "leave of absence to attend to his wife Jeanine as she continues her treatment and rehabilitation..."

Jeanine Duncan underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in August. Her husband left the Cardinals at that point. He turned over the coaching reigns to bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist until returning for the conclusion of the regular season and all of the playoffs.

The change would rock the stability of new manager Mike Matheny's first staff. At this point, it is not clear if Lilliquist will again step in or a permanent replacement will be hired. Duncan is under contract for 2012 and the team holds a 2013 option on his services as well.

Duncan was Tony La Russa's pitching coach for the last 28 years, first with the White Sox, then Oakland. They joined St. Louis together prior to the 1996 season.

Duncan, known for rejuvenating many a pitching career, has been associated with eight Cy Young Award-winning hurlers during his MLB-record 32 years as a pitching coach and caught four others as a player.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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