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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Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.