Duncan's father, pitching coach Dave Duncan, chafed at the treatment of his son in the local media and even told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that someone in the organization wanted Chris gone. Manager Tony La Russa called out Cardinals fans for booing the younger Duncan, saying the shots made him "want to vomit."
And yet Chris understood it all then. He still does. He understands why his playing time dwindled, and he understands why he was dealt to the Red Sox. Now that he's with the Nationals, he has no hard feelings. Returning to Roger Dean Stadium, where he spent his first 10 professional springs, Duncan looked back fondly on his time as a Cardinal.
"I just remember '06 mostly, the World Series, how great that year was," Duncan said on Wednesday, before his first game against the Cardinals. "I try to remember all the good times. Even though last year didn't work out good for me, it was still an exciting year. The team made it to the playoffs. Getting a chance to play with my dad and win a World Series is something that I'll never forget. For me, it was awesome getting a chance to play for Tony and my dad and getting a chance to be on a winning team and playing with guys like Albert [Pujols]. It was something special that I'll never forget."
Duncan was greatly hampered by back problems in his final two years in a St. Louis uniform. He underwent surgery before the 2009 season, and felt great in Spring Training, but his strength didn't hold up. By the time he was dealt to Boston in July, in part to make room for the impending arrival of Matt Holliday, Duncan was a shell of himself as a player.
Now he's with Washington, feeling good and trying to win a spot.
"He's competing, and he's going to make it a tough decision for us," said Washington manager Jim Riggleman. "He looks great. He's in really good shape. Hasn't missed any time. He's worked real hard. ... He'll make or not make the ballclub based on what decisions we make and how he plays. There's no physical limitations."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.