Cards pitching coach Dave Duncan taking leave of absence

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According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is taking a leave of absence from the team to be with his wife, who underwent surgery in August of last year to remove a brain tumor.

“As far as how long he’ll be gone, no one knows,” Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said Thursday night.

The Cardinals’ front office is expected to make a formal announcement on Friday morning, with more details on the matter and perhaps some news about a temporary replacement.

Duncan is widely regarded as the best pitching coach in Major League Baseball. He worked alongside recently-retired manager Tony La Russa for 28 seasons with three different organizations.

UPDATE, 9:24 PM: Two St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters, Joe Strauss and Bernie Miklasz, are hearing that Duncan is stepping down from his job for good, not taking a leave of absence.

UPDATE, 9:29 PM: Miklasz says Duncan “will remain linked to the organization in another capacity,” and that bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist is expected to be promoted to the role of pitching coach.

UPDATE, 9:44 PM: According to MLB.com’s Matthew Leach, it is indeed being termed as a “leave of absence” by the Cardinals, who have released a short statement:

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Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.