Lilliquist will step into Duncan's shoes
First, manager Tony La Russa left. Then, first baseman Albert Pujols. And now longtime Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan won't be in the dugout this season as he cares for his ailing wife, Jeanine.
Mike Matheny has replaced La Russa. Lance Berkman will move to first base from right field and outfielder Carlos Beltran has signed. Meanwhile, bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist will come in from the outfield to replace Duncan in the dugout, as he did on an interim basis for the last two months of the 2011 regular season when Duncan was on a leave of absence.
Lilliquist said he would keep it simple.
"I don't see a reason to come in and change things around," said Lilliquist, whose first year as a major league coach was last year. "What Dunc advocates has been proven to work, so why would you not maintain that philosophy?
"I know the guys and believe the guys know me. It's a very professional group. They know their responsibility and take it very seriously."
Right-hander Kyle Lohse, the staff's leading winner with 14 victories last year, said he thought the transition would be relatively seamless.
"I think anybody will tell you you're not going to replace Dunc," Lohse said. "You're not going to replace Tony. You're not going to replace Albert. But Lilly showed last year when he stepped in that he was capable of doing what needed to be done.
"It wasn't like we got lost when he was the guy in the pitchers' meetings. He definitely seemed like he had an idea of what he wanted to get done. It will be a big step for him the first part of the year but I believe it's a solid situation."
Hitting coach Mark McGwire, entering his third season, is second in seniority among those staff members in the dugout. Only third-base coach Jose Oquendo has been on the big-league staff longer. Oquendo is entering his 13th season as third-base coach.
C Koyie Hill, who had been with the Chicago Cubs, was signed to a minor league contract and will contest rookies Tony Cruz and Bryan Anderson for the backup job to Gold Glover Yadier Molina. Hill hit .194 with two home runs last season for Chicago.
RHP Shelby Miller, two-time organizational minor league pitcher of the year, will be invited to big-league camp along with minor league player of the year Matt Adams, who hit 32 home runs and batted .300 at Class AA Springfield.
2B Kolten Wong, the club's 2012 No. 1 draft choice who helped spark Quad Cities to the Midwest League title, will be in a big-league camp for the first time as a non-roster invitee.
Veteran minor league pitching coach Dyar Miller will move up to the Cardinals scene as the bullpen coach. New pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and Miller have worked together often in the minors and Lilliquist, replacing Dave Duncan, who is taking an indefinite leave of absence to care for his wife, said: "It's the perfect situation if there's going to be a change. Dyar and I know each other. He's extremely familiar with the guys in the system and has helped a lot of the guys already here. I see it as a win-win."
5 -- Number of pitchers who won between 11 and 14 games for the Cardinals last season. RHP Kyle Lohse was high at 14 and RHP Chris Carpenter was low at 11.
"I just want them to know if they have a desire to call me, they should feel completely comfortable doing it. But I don't want to interrupt anything they're doing. I want it to be something they invite." -- Pitching coach Dave Duncan, speaking about his pitchers. Duncan will be on a leave of absence to care for his wife, Jeanine, who is battling a brain malignancy.