The Diamondbacks have hired pitching guru Dave Duncan as a pitching consultant/special assitant to the GM— John Gambadoro (@Gambo620) November 12, 2013
There had been some discussion that Duncan might be up for the job of pitching coach, left vacant by the team's decision not to ask previous incumbent Charles Nagy to return. Duncan told Fox Sports in September, "I really don’t think I would coach again — not right now, anyway," and seems to have stuck to that, though even then, he did say he was open to listening to job offers in another capacity. Duncan quit his job as pitching coach in St. Louis in January 2012, in order to help his wife, Jeanine, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer - passed away in June of this year, although his son, Chris, is also fighting something similar.
Gambadoro later said that Duncan was "physically and mentally not able to make the full-time commitment" required for the coach position, but this position will still mean the D-backs get the benefit of his experience. That does fit in with Duncan's explanation of his decision to give up coaching: "It got to the point where it was starting not to be fun The game was fun — don’t get me wrong. I loved it once the game started. But all of the other stuff involved, it got to be a grind."
Duncan has been a coach for over a third of a century, starting with the Cleveland Indians in 1978. He has been closely associated with Tony La Russa, under whom Duncan worked not ony in St. Louis, but before that, both in Oakland and with the White Sox, forging a partnership which lasted 30 seasonsa. For many years, La Russa said, half-jokingly, that he'd keep on managing for as long as Duncan would keep coaching, and has always given his wing-man credit for the success of the teams La Russa managed, to the extent that some feel Duncan should be considered for the Hall of Fame. Said Dennis Eckersley, "If he can’t get into the Hall, which coach can?".
Certainly, Duncan's experience and wisdom is close to unsurpassed, and bringing him on board can only be considered a good move for the Diamondbacks, almost regardless of the specific capacity. If there's a single foundation upon which his philosophy is built, it's this: throw strike one. As our colleagues over at Viva El Birdos wrote in 2012, everything else then flows from this. With Patrick Corbin #1 in the National League for throwing first-pitch strikes, and Brandon McCarthy just behind him at #3, it seems some members of the D-backs are already on board with the concept.