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Duncan, McGwire part of returning Cards staff

Duncan, McGwire part of returning Cards staff

ST. LOUIS -- Every coach that the Cardinals wanted back for 2011 will be coming back.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan agreed to a two-year contract with a 2013 option on Monday, while four other members of the club's 2010 staff agreed to one-year pacts. That includes hitting coach Mark McGwire -- whose return, like Duncan's, had been uncertain. First-base/outfield coach Dave McKay, third-base/infield coach Jose Oquendo and bench coach Joe Pettini, who all agreed to contracts for 2011, had been expected to return since the club announced that it had offered deals to them.

The club still has yet to name a 2011 bullpen coach after relieving Marty Mason of his duties.

"I think it was fairly standard," general manager John Mozeliak said of the process of signing the five coaches. "There was some negotiation, but it was nothing to the point where it was uncomfortable."

The staff will join manager Tony La Russa, whose return for a 16th season wearing the "birds on the bat" was confirmed one week earlier. Mozeliak and La Russa both reiterated on Monday that the bullpen-coach position is expected to be filled from within the organization. The club hopes to have interviews completed by the end of this week.

La Russa signed a one-year contract with a "mutual option" for 2012, making Duncan's contract noteworthy for its duration. It's rare that a coach has more job security than his manager, but these are unusual circumstances. La Russa has made it clear that at this point in his career he only wishes to go on a year-to-year basis, while Duncan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently that he wanted to coach for three more years.

"Obviously, Dave and Tony have a very good relationship," Mozeliak said, "and I think Tony definitely advocated for Dunc to get a multiyear deal if he felt the club agreed. He was not someone that was nervous about that at all. Some other situations, that might be [an issue], but in this case, that did not exist."

With La Russa and Duncan both considered absolutely integral parts of the club's success, each received something very much like what he wanted.

"If you secure Dave's services, you're in great shape," La Russa said. "You can't put your pitching in better hands than that. So it's no problem for me."

The only other question mark was McGwire, who had expressed some uncertainty regarding his future to La Russa. But he elected to return for a second season as the team's hitting coach, meaning that all but one of the 2010 coaches will be part of the '11 staff.

Monday represented something of a deadline for the Cardinals to announce deals. Workouts for the World Series begin on Tuesday, and Major League Baseball prohibits clubs from announcing major news during the Fall Classic.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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