Spring Training Spotlight - Chris Duncan

So much for nepotism, slugger Chris Duncan, is projected to start the season at Triple-A Memphis, in spite of leading the Cardinals in almost every offensive category this spring.

Chris Duncan, the power-hitting son of pitching coach Dave Duncan, has been one of the Cardinals' most productive hitters this spring.

In one two-game stretch, he had two doubles and a 480-foot homer against the Braves, and a rare home run by a left-handed hitter against ace Randy Johnson of the Yankees the next day.

But manager Tony La Russa wants Duncan, who is converting from first base to outfield, to open the season at Triple-A Memphis for the second season in a row.

Duncan has led the team in at-bats this spring, with Albert Pujols participating in the World Baseball Classic.

"I think it's been really good for him and for us," La Russa said. "But he's working at a new position. We're not going to put him on the bench as a part-time player. He won't make the team."

Duncan, a first-round (supplemental) pick in 1999, struggled in his early years in the Cardinals' system but has gone from suspect to prospect again.

This spring, no one has impressed me more, in terms of total focus and determination at the plate.

"I always felt I had to prove I was worthy," said the 24-year-old. "Especially being a first-round pick and having your dad as a coach. "I don't want anything ever to be just handed to me, and that perception was something hard for me to deal with at first. The more success I've had (Duncan had 21 homers last year), the more comfortable I am with it."

Sending Duncan down to Triple-A Memphis would be a very tough decision for me to make.

Dunc, leads (or is tied) the team in; games, at bats, runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases, and walks. He's hitting .306 with an on base percentage of .382.

The Cardinals talk about competition on the field to earn a job, you have to wonder what else does Duncan have to do?

Duncan played winter ball, after the Cardinals early exit in the post season, last year, to learn to play right field.

There is no question that Chris could use some time in the minors to develop into a major league outfielder, you just have to wonder if the Cardinals will miss his bat?

Something to think about for 2007, Juan Encarnacion in left and Chris Duncan in right.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories