No timetable has been set for longtime Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan's return, and the feeling among Cardinals people is that it's possible he might not be back at all.
The Cardinals announced a leave of absence for Duncan, so they are keeping the seat warm. And they have hope to see him back at some point. But Duncan, probably the greatest pitching coach over the past quarter centurey and maybe ever, has understadably left to be with his wife Jeanine, and it is clear what his priority is now. Jeanine had surgery for a brain tumor in August. The team hasn't talk about her prognosis, but they understand Duncan's priority.
Duncan's replacement is Derek Lilliquist. They are calling Lilliquist is the interim replacement, and that is only appropriate. Duncan can come back is he desires. Unfortunately, it won't be soon.
Lilliquist is the right choice. He is known as a great communicator and a great competitor. Besides that, he has been in the organization since 2002 and knows all the pitchers. He was the point man in Jupiter who tended to all their rehabs before he joined the mjaor-league staff last year, in time for the World Championship, and he was the pitching coach for six weeks when Duncan left to be with Jeanine last summer.
Duncan will be missed. The 67-year-old coach was Tony La Russa's righthand man since the beginning, and he always seemed to get the most out of whatever he had. He leaves a void in experience, too. Jose Oquendo is the one very experienced coach left on rookie manager Mike Matheny's staff. Matheny is fortuate he has a very mature team, full of leaders like Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina. But tere's only one Dave Duncan.