KANSAS CITY — National League All-Star manager Tony La Russa's longtime right-hand man doesn't think he'll return to the game, either.
Dave Duncan, La Russa's pitching coach for more than 30 years with the White Sox, Athletics and Cardinals, is on an open-ended leave of absence to be with his ailing wife and is living in southwest Missouri. He hasn't officially retired, but said Tuesday he didn't anticipate coaching again.
Janine Duncan's condition has stabilized after surgery to remove a brain tumor last summer.
Derek Lilliquist was promoted from bullpen coach to pitching coach in January.
Duncan tutored several Cy Young winners, including LaMarr Hoyt, Dennis Eckersley and Chris Carpenter. With the Cardinals, he was credited with helping to resurrect the careers of Woody Williams, Jeff Suppan and Kyle Lohse.
It was La Russa's decision to start the Giants' Matt Cain over Mets 12-game winner R.A. Dickey. He and Duncan collaborated on the best spot to use Dickey, given neither of his catchers has much, if any, experience with a knuckleballer.
Duncan said the plan called for Dickey to pitch in the fifth inning, and not to be the second pitcher used.
"He will not come in second because that isn't where it makes sense to use him," La Russa said. "When you see how he's used, you'll understand."
La Russa knew he'd be questioned about his decision and noted that Dickey's first half is a "great story." But he added, "There's a whole clubhouse full of great stories. He doesn't have to start the game."