Former Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan overcoming brain tumor

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The baseball family that includes ex-Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and his sons, former Cardinals outfielder Chris and the still active major leaguer Shelley, suffered a big blow last year when Dave’s wife, Jeanine, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Dave was away from the  Cardinals for much of the 2011 season, and he remained on a leave of absence for the duration of 2012.

While Jeanine has continued her fight with cancer this year, the family got an even bigger shock at the end of September, as Chris was diagnosed with a brain tumor of his own, he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Flown down on a Cardinals’ owner’s private jet, Duncan received treatment at the same Duke University medical facility that his mother did. Surgery took place Oct. 10, and now he’s getting chemo.

“They took out 95 percent of the tumor, there was a little bit left,” Chris Duncan said. “They said most of the tumor was Stage 2 cancer, there was a little piece that was a Stage 4 — but that was a small piece of it.”

The tumor was in his speech area of the brain, so he wasn’t able to talk for the first week after the operation.

“I remembered the surgery the next day, but the swelling grew, then I was out of it for a week,” he said. “Then I woke up and I started gradually getting better. I remember waking up and seeing the Cardinals led the Giants 3-1. I didn’t remember anything about the Washington series.”

Doctors aren’t sure if Duncan and his mother were both exposed to something that led to the tumors. Chris did get a lot of X-rays for his neck problems that ended his career, and he wonders if that has something to do with it.

Chris, who is just 31, played five years with the Cardinals before having to call it quits, hitting .257/.348/.458 with 55 homers in 1,147 at-bats. He’s currently doing sports talk radio in St. Louis, and he’s hoping to return to the air next week.

Joe Girardi won’t use Masahiro Tanaka in Game 7

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The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.

Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.

Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.

Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.