UPDATE: General manager John Mozeliak told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the Cardinals do not expect Duncan to return during the 2012 season, meaning Lilliquist will take over the job without an “interim” title.
Longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan is taking an extended leave of absence from the Cardinals to be with his wife, who’s recovering from the removal of a brain tumor, and today the team announced that Derek Lilliquist will replace him in the role.
Lilliquist had been the Cardinals’ bullpen coach and was the person at the other end of the phone when Tony La Russa’s instructions about which relievers to warm up were misunderstood in Game 5 of the World Series. Prior to that Lilliquist filled in for Duncan during his initial leave of absence last season.
St. Louis also announced that Dyer Miller will replace Lilliquist as bullpen coach after previously serving as the Cardinals’ minor league pitching coordinator.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.