- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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1. Darwin Barney, 2B: He has been rejuvenated over the last two weeks, playing his best baseball since last July. Barney has worked with both hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and manager Dale Sveum on his approach to the ball and bat plane which has paid off in more power during his recent resurgence. The numbers have been impressive. Over the last week, Barney is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with two doubles and 4 RBIs. Barney is now a competent second baseman after playing the position full time last season for the first time. Infield coach Pat LIstach gets a lot of the credit for his work with Barney and Starlin Castro.
2. Casey Coleman, P: After returning from the minors a few weeks ago, Coleman has been virtually impossible to score on. Consider over his last seven appearances he has a 0.00 ERA allowing just two hits in seven games. Prior to that his previous appearance was as a long man, going 4 1/3 innings giving up just one run as Sveum’s most reliable bullpen man this side of Shawn Camp and James Russell. Coleman has mastered the use of off-speed pitches to set up his accurate fastball. His deceptive Luis Tiant-like turn before releasing a pitch seems to confuse some hitters.
1. Starlin Castro, SS: If any player ever needed a day off it is Castro , who cost the Cubs a run on the bases Friday and another in the field by forgetting how many out there were on Monday against the Giants during their 11th straight road loss .Young players such as Castro need time on the bench every so often to watch the game and learn some of the nuances of playing while talking to the coaching staff. Castro, a career .300 hitter, is in a 5- for-23 funk that includes a three-game hitless streak (0-for-12).
2. Ian Stewart, 3B: He has played through one slump after another as he tries to find some consistency in his swing. He is now in a 2-for-25 funk with one home run and 1 RBI in his last seven games. The swing and miss factor isn’t as prevalent as earlier in the season but Stewart has had trouble squaring the ball up. His defense remains stellar and has proven to be a master at snagging short hops before they take a nasty second bounce.
Bruce Levine looks at which Cubs are Streaking and Slumping.