Dave Duncan, still officially the Cardinals' pitching coach, participated in his seventh All-Star Game on Tuesday night in Kansas City, sixth as a coach and one as a player.
He was in uniform for the first time since Game 7 of last year's World Series. Those Series appearances came after he had returned during the playoffs, upon manager Tony La Russa's request and insistence, following taking off nearly two months to care for his wife, Jeanine, who was battling brain cancer.
La Russa, after the National League sent him into the managing sunset with an 8-0 victory Tuesday, said he "absolutely" is done with managing and no longer would be in a uniform.
It is largely assumed that Duncan, La Russa's pitching coach at three different stops since 1983, also no longer would be wearing a uniform, especially this year. He is on an indefinite leave of absence although the club is paying him his full salary.
"I don't think so," Duncan said about a comeback. "Maybe somewhere along the line, I'll talk to people to see what might be available there because I don't know that I want to be full-time. There's a lot less pressure doing what I'm doing."
In theory, the "people" Duncan talks to could mean the Cardinals, who have an option on Duncan's contract for 2013, but it also could mean another club.
Duncan, who has been in professional baseball for 49 seasons, counting his cameo appearance in this one, said he really didn't miss the game.
"I'm busy enough that I don't," Duncan said. "There's a lot of responsibility with (Jeanine). You've got to stay on top of so many different things, like the treatments."
Responding to a question about his wife's condition, Duncan said, "No change," which is probably more good news than bad given the circumstances.
Recently the Duncans made a circuitous trip from their home in Kimberling City, Mo., to the Duke Medical Center in Durham, N.C., to Cleveland to Kansas City.
The first step was for medical tests, observation and consultation, the next was to assume the duties of grandparents for the first time and the third was for Dave to be on La Russa's National League staff.
In Cleveland, Elyse Duncan, wife of Cleveland outfielder Shelley Duncan, gave birth to twin boys a week or so ago. The boys, seven pounds, nine ounces and six pounds, nine ounces, respectively, are the Duncans' first grandchildren.
"It was very exciting," Duncan said. "Big babies."
Duncan keeps up with the Cardinals and his pitching staff via television, where he watches almost every Redbirds game — unless it conflicts with a Cleveland game.
"If Shelley's in the lineup, I'll pay close attention to it," he said. "If he's not, then I'll wait until the seventh or eighth inning to switch over."
Derek Lilliquist, the bullpen coach who was promoted to interim pitching coach last August and then full-time pitching coach this winter when Duncan asked for another leave of absence, said he talks to Duncan "here and there," about the Cards' staff, which has, for the most part, been better than not the first half of the season.
"Time will tell," Duncan said. "But I like the starting pitching. I think they're competitive on a daily basis. And the bullpen seems to be coming together a little.
"(Mitchell) Boggs has made a big difference. And the little lefty, (Barret) Browning, seems to be doing a good job.
"(Fernando) Salas is very capable and I think, somewhere along the line, (Eduardo) Sanchez is going to get his stuff together.
"I think they're going to be all right."
When Duncan had announced he was taking his leave this year, several veteran pitchers such as Kyle Lohse, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright said they could call Duncan if they had any issues and Duncan said he would welcome that.
Duncan said at the All-Star Game that had none had called, which he said validated the job Lilliquist had been doing.
But Lilliquist was only too happy on Tuesday night to move back to the bullpen, where he answered the phone every inning to send in another buzz-bombing National League pitcher to frustrate the American League hitters.
The phones, by the way, appear to work better at Kauffman Stadium than the system in Arlington, Texas, site of the massive confusion during the fifth game of last year's World Series.
"Obviously, they do," Lilliquist said. "Worked out pretty good didn't it?"
Lilliquist said he could appreciate the significance of La Russa and Duncan together one more time.
"Tony comes full circle, 'Dunc' coming back — It was a lot of fun," Lilliquist said.
As he got into his game-face mode before Tuesday's game, La Russa didn't want to address the probability that it was going to be Duncan's final game.
"Dunc's got the better feel for that," La Russa said. "How would I know? What did 'Dunc' say?
"How can he answer for me and I answer for him? I don't care how long we've known each other."
But, afterward, La Russa seemed to know.
"I told him, 'It's a shutout and he had to go the interview room," La Russa said, chuckling. "He said, 'Yeah, see if you can get me in there.'"
So, after several years together as players with the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics and 29 years plus one night as manager/pitching coach of the same team, it is over. You will not see Nos. 10 and 18 in the dugout together again.
As Duncan, one year younger than La Russa at 66, said, with a smile, "We're even too old for old-timers' games."