Dave Duncan, one of the game’s most respected pitching coaches, is taking a leave of absence from the St. Louis Cardinals, general manager John Mozeliak said Thursday night.
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, the team announced in a news release.
“As far as how long he’ll be gone, no one knows,” Mozeliak told FOXSports.com.
The Cardinals are leaving open the possibility that Duncan can return to the organization at a later time, sources said.
The team confirmed Friday that bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist would step in as pitching coach during Duncan’s absence. Dyer Miller, who most recently served as minor league pitching coordinator, will be the new bullpen coach.
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.
Lilliquist served as pitching coach while Duncan was away from the club.
Duncan worked alongside manager Tony La Russa for 28 seasons with three different clubs — the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Cardinals.
La Russa, 67, resigned on Oct. 31 after managing the Cardinals to their second title in three World Series appearances during his 16-year career in St. Louis.
Duncan is under contract to the Cardinals through 2012 with a club option for the 2013 season.