ST. LOUIS -- When pitching coach Dave Duncan stepped away from the Cardinals to go on an indefinite leave of absence, the club was not unprepared. The day after Duncan's decision to leave his post in order to tend to his ailing wife, St. Louis named Derek Lilliquist as his successor. Duncan had been the Cardinals' pitching coach since 1996. He is surrendering his duties in order to be with his wife, Jeanine, who underwent surgery for brain cancer in August. His absence is officially considered by the club to be a leave rather than a resignation or retirement, but neither Lilliquist nor Dyar Miller, who will fill Lilliquist's old role, is being referred to as an interim coach. The club announced the moves after general manager John Mozeliak met with new manager Mike Matheny on Friday morning to discuss a course of action. Lilliquist had filled in for Duncan at the end of the regular season, when Duncan stepped away.
"We all hurt for Dave and Jeanine and know that the Duncan family is going through a tough time," Matheny said. "When Dave did what he needed to do during the season last year, that afforded 'Lilli' an opportunity to step in, and I think he did a great job. ... It seemed like a natural fit in case this did happen, and that was something that since about the second or third day that I was in this position, that we started thinking about." Lilliquist, who will turn 46 in February, had been the Cardinals' bullpen coach for one year after succeeding Marty Mason. He took over pitching-coach duties late in 2011 when Duncan first stepped away to tend to his wife. He has been with the organization since 2002, working largely out of the team's Jupiter, Fla., complex. "Lilli is a very bright guy with very good baseball sense, and has the work ethic that goes into making a pitching coach really last a long time," Matheny said. Miller, 65, has held a variety of jobs in the Cardinals' Minor League system since 1995. He pitched seven seasons in the Major Leagues. Like Lilliquist, he has worked extensively with many of the younger pitchers on the Cardinals' staff, having dealt with them when they were in the farm system. "Dyar's a great baseball person," Matheny said. "He has been around this game for a long time as a good pitcher himself and has earned the respect of people within this organization, players and staff alike. He knows how to go about the game the right way." The club announced that Brent Strom will take over Miller's current duties as Minor League pitching coordinator. Jamie Pogue was officially named bullpen catcher, replacing Jeff Murphy.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.