Right or wrong, former manager Dale Sveum took a lot of the blame for the regression of some of the young Cubs, most notably Rizzo and Castro. But people forget that Barney also regressed under Sveum's watch. He hit .276 in 2011 -- the year before Sveum was named manager. The next two seasons, under Sveum, Barney saw his batting average plummet to .254 in 2012 and .208 in 2013.
Darwin Barney is trying to keep a positive attitude and is willing to embrace any role the Cubs want him to play.
He's hitting only .204 this year after doubling and scoring the winning run in the seventh inning of the Cubs' 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night. But he's no longer the starter, and until Emilio Bonifacio got hurt his at-bats came sparingly. As much as you might think his numbers are proof he can't hit in the majors, he never has had enough consistent at-bats this year to prove himself. Then again he hasn't taken advantage of the ones he has had.
"I'm trying to focus on the team and what we have going right now," Barney said before Thursday's game. "It's just part of the game. When my name is in the lineup I try to do the best I can to help them win. I try not to think any more than that."
Barney was the victim of a hot start by Bonfiacio as it was just days before the end of spring training that manager Rick Renteria still declared Barney his starter. That didn't last long as Bonifacio tore up National League pitching in the first few weeks of the season. Barney was relegated to bench duty.
"He hasn't shown any frustration," Renteria said. "He's continued to go out there and work extremely hard and have really good at-bats. In terms of attitude, he's had a great attitude."
What does this all mean for Barney's future? It's hard to tell considering his trade value can't be very high. Teams haven't see him hit consistently in several years and his defense hasn't been as spectacular as it had been in the past. That's probably because he's not playing every day. With infield prospects getting closer and closer to making it to the major leagues, Barney's future in Chicago seems to be up in the air.
"You try not to think about it," Barney said. "We all hope that our future is here. I've said it for the past three years. We want to be here when things turn around. I think we can see that things slowly are."
In the meantime, Barney is going to "embrace" whatever role the Cubs have for him. That includes coming off the bench. But even his most ardent critics can admit he didn't get the chance that Rizzo and Castro got. Maybe he didn't deserve it. But the facts are the facts: He hit better before Sveum, just as Castro did. Only one got to prove he could do it again. Still, Barney wants to be in Chicago -- and win -- once the dust settles.
"That's my goal," he said. "Hopefully come August 1, it will still be my goal."
The most he'll admit -- like any player -- is it's hard to maintain any consistency without serious playing time. He's had more since Bonifacio went down because of an oblique strain, but the writing was on the wall at the end of the spring.
"It's not easy," Barney said of limited play. "If this is a winning team and that's my role I have to embrace it."
As for trade possibilities, Barney won't follow the rumors unless he's told about them by reporters. Plus, he won't believe he's being moved until it happens.
"Most of the deals that you hear about don't happen anyway," he said.