Dave Duncan wants to return to the Cardinals next year

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With Tony La Russa retiring, it’s not unreasonable to wonder what pitching coach Dave Duncan’s future holds.  He’s been La Russa’s partner in crime for nearly 30 years, following him from Chicago to Oakland and then finally on to St. Louis.  Does he ride off in the sunset at the same time as La Russa? Does he stay put? Does he take another pitching coach job someplace else?

Well, this morning anyway he’s saying — on a radio show, passed along by Gordon Edes on Twitter — that he wants to stay with the Cardinals for 2012.  Which, given that he’s still under contract makes sense. But a question: is it not worth asking whether that creates any problems for potential managerial candidates?

Now, it goes without saying that anyone should want Dave Duncan around because he’s the best pitching coach ever.  It doesn’t always work that way, however. Duncan’s own experience shows that things work best when a coach is paired with a manager who is on the same page about everything. How would Duncan respond to being with someone else besides La Russa for the first time since 1982? How would the new manager feel if he wasn’t able to get “his guy” in the job?

Maybe it’s not a problem, either because the Cardinals pick someone with enough sense to want to work with Duncan. Maybe it’s not a problem because Duncan is the most adaptable man on the planet. Maybe it’s not a problem because they’re going to promote Jose Oquendo or someone internally for whom none of these assimilation issues would really matter.  But it’s definitely an interesting open issue at the moment.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.