Cubs Darwin Barney could get pushed by Emilio BonifacioContinue reading.
Is Barney becoming dinosaur in Cubs’ plans?
Three series into a new season with a new manager and coaching staff, and the only thing Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney knows is that he doesn’t now much about his suddenly tenuous hold on the starting job he’s owned for the last three years.
“Obviously, it’s not the same,” said Barney, who was out of the starting lineup again Thursday, for the fourth time in nine games this season.
Since earning the starting job a week into the 2011 season, Barney hasn’t missed as many starts over a similar stretch of games that didn’t involve an injury.
“But that’s the nature of the game,” he said. “And last year happened. So I have to continue to show that’s not who I am.”
Barney, who hit .276 and .254 as he developed into an elite-fielding second baseman in 2011-12, slumped to .208 last year while trying to adopt changes to his hitting style that previous management wanted to see.
This spring, his approach looked more like the 2011-12 version, and he saw more pitches and drew more walks along the way.
Wednesday he singled and drew two walks (one intentional). His five walks are tied with Luis Valbuena for the team lead so for, boosting an early .214 average into a .421 on-base percentage.
Manager Rick Renteria has been non-committal about his day-to-day plans for the position but has been clear about finding a place in the field every day for leadoff man Emilo Bonifacio, who can play six positions – exclusively center field and second base for the Cubs so far.
The irony is Barney likely would be a good fit as an everyday top-fielding second baseman in a contender’s lineup, where he might also benefit offensively from bigger bats around him. He’s one of at least seven players who could be on the trading block by July.
But he wants to stay in Chicago, and win in Chicago, he said, even if it means proving himself as a big-league starter all over again. Even if it means Bonifacio or Valbuena are in the mix for playing time at second – with top prospect Javy Baez knocking at the door from Iowa.
“I’m a part of this team, just like anybody else,” Barney said, “and my job is to help this team win when I’m out there in any situation that they need me.”