Cardinals pitching coach takes leave of absence

By The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan has taken a leave of absence to tend to his ailing wife.

The Cardinals said Jeanine Duncan underwent major surgery Sunday night and would require additional tests and rehabilitation. Duncan left the team Saturday in Chicago and son Shelley Duncan left the Cleveland Indians to be with his mother.

“The time is as required,” manager Tony La Russa said before Monday night’s game against the Dodgers. “It’s clearly the priority. The players feel that way, the coaches feel that way, the front office, the organization.”

La Russa met with Duncan and general manager John Mozeliak on Monday. La Russa said he and Duncan have text messaged back and forth the last few days.

Duncan is the longest-tenured coach in major league history in his 32nd season, all with La Russa.

“One of the things is we know his process, so we’ll do the process the best we can,” La Russa said. “We’ll shift guys around a little bit. It’s a good challenge but there’s no question that’s the right way to go about it.”

Bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist has assumed some of the pitching coach duties. The team may consider promoting another coach from the system while Duncan is out.

The team said the family asked for privacy, but was optimistic about a recovery.