Saturday, September 15, 2012
On shaky night for defense, Barney still shines
By Sahadev Sharma
While the Chicago Cubs committed two costly errors in Saturday’s 7-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Darwin Barney continues to show why he may just snag the Gold Glove at second base. Barney made a spectacular defensive play on a running catch in right with his back to the infield while narrowly avoiding a collision with right fielder Dave Sappelt.
“That was probably as good a defensive game as anybody could play,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He just piled on the defensive year he's having. There's not a lot of people that would just throw their life on the line for a ball like that. He basically said, 'I'm catching this ball, I don't care what the collision's gonna be.' We've seen over the past -- I was actually part of one that almost ended my career. He basically just gave his body up and made one heck of a catch. Let alone the other plays in the 4-hole, a pretty spectacular defensive game.”
Barney said that he trusted Sappelt would call him off if he had a clean play on the ball. But if Sappelt didn’t, they’re taught that the infielder stays high and the outfielder goes low, which is exactly what happened. Once again, Barney showed that he wouldn’t avoid making a tough play in fear of ending his now 130-game errorless streak.
“All year long he hasn't been afraid to do anything defensively,” Sveum said. “Stay in there on double plays, go down the right field line on pop-ups, possible collisions with the right fielder, he's been fearless all year long.”
There has been some talk that Barney’s streak is greatly aided by the fact that Sveum shifts his infielders so well and they’re always in the right position to make the play. However, Barney displayed his impressive range on Saturday, going far to his left on a pair of grounders to get the outs.
Barney also had a nice day at the plate, going 1-for-2 with two walks, extending his hitting streak to 10 games.
“Barney's one of those guys that's gonna be here on his off day, working on his swing,” Sveum said. “He's never satisfied and I know he's trying to get better. He knows there's a lot of upside to his hitting, we just gotta get to it. He tries to search all the time, maybe sometimes a little too much, but I think there's more to his hitting than we see.”