- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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The Gold Glove that was awarded Tuesday to Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney extends beyond the essence of what an individual award really means. In this case, a team player such as Barney found ways of sharing the honors with coaches who have helped him improve and his keystone partner -- shortstop Starlin Castro.
Barney, who committed just two errors all season, believes that Castro is improving.
"He has gotten better," Barney said. "The work that we did has made him a better shortstop, and he knows that.”
While Barney successfully switched positions last season after playing most of his minor league career at shortstop, Castro has continued to have lapses at shortstop, making 27 errors in 2012.
"As happy as he is about the work he has done, we have spoken about who he wants to be in the future," Barney said "One of the best things he did say to me that made me feel really good is he said, 'Hey man, you're the best defensive player I have ever seen and I want to be like you.' Coming from a guy who has every tool in the bag means a lot. We are good friends and I hope our relationship keeps getting better and better."
The soon-to-be 27-year-old second baseman will make a little above the major league minimum ($500,000) in 2013. At 22, Castro will begin a seven-year, $60 million contract he signed last summer next season. Even though the salaries are light years from being equal, the respect and admiration that the tandem have for each other seems to be genuine.
"We decided early on in spring training that we were going to work hard together to be the best that we can up the middle," Barney said. "Our goal is to be the best around, and that is what we are working towards. In the future, we will have to get better together and hopefully that is what we can do.
The Cubs' combination turned 97 twin killings last season, up 17 from their first year together in 2011.