Darwin Barney expected back next week; game postponed
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com April 10, 2013 10:31PM
Updated: April 11, 2013 8:02AM
If there was a bright side to the postponement of the Brewers-Cubs game Wednesday, it had nothing to do with the sun.
It had more to do with Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney missing one fewer game.
The linchpin infielder has been on the disabled list since suffering a deep gash in his left knee during the Cubs’ final exhibition game.
He’s scheduled to have the stitches removed Friday and start a three-day minor-league rehab assignment Saturday. Barney is expected to come off the DL on Tuesday for the start of a series against the Texas Rangers.
Barney’s absence has had a ripple effect at the plate and in the field. The Cubs have gotten the least production in baseball from their second basemen (3-for-27, .291 OPS, no runs, no RBI), but perhaps more important is the impact on shortstop Starlin Castro.
Manager Dale Sveum has said more than once: “That was one of the best [middle infield] combinations in baseball last year, if not the best.”
They’ve spent the last two full seasons together, and Castro has felt the difference in his comfort zone.
“It’s real tough,” Castro said of being without his pregame workout partner and in-game beacon. “He’s one of the guys that helps me every time, that tells me the situation, tells me where to move, when he moves, where he wants me to move, too.”
Castro hasn’t been lost without Barney. He wasn’t in the wrong place Tuesday when he threw wildly on one play and failed to make another during the Brewers’ three-run second inning — or when he saved a run in the eighth with a diving play for the third out.
“I know what I’m supposed to do because I learned from him,” Castro said. “He’s not there; I can do it myself.”
Sveum shrugged off Castro’s misdeeds in the second.
“I’m not concerned about that,” he said.
But he isn’t underestimating Barney’s value, for the sake of second base and shortstop.
“The routine they put together just in batting practice alone [is valuable],” Sveum said. I think Barney pushes him. He’s one of those kind of guys. And that’s an important person to push.
“Once you have that kind of comfort with each other and a routine, it makes a big difference.”
Barney’s stint on the 15-day DL will cost him only 12 games, perhaps fewer depending on the weather the next four days.
“I miss him not being here,” Castro said. But the people behind him can do the job, too. And we’ll be all right.”
Given the unexpected opportunity to shuffle his rotation, Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to leave well enough alone with the only group that has come close to being competitive in the early going.
When the game Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers was postponed because of a miserable weather forecast, Sveum pushed all the starters back. So the one guy without a good start, Scott Feldman, will open the four-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.
The game Wednesday was rescheduled for 1:20 p.m. July 30 as the opener of a day-night doubleheader. The regularly scheduled game still will start at 7:05 p.m. Tickets to the game Wednesday will be honored for admission to the rescheduled game.
Struggling No. 3 hitter Anthony Rizzo got his first hit against a left-hander with a two-out, run-scoring double off Mike Gonzalez in the seventh Tuesday.
“Hopefully, it’s huge,” Sveum said. “He hasn’t been hitting with a lot of confidence, let alone off lefties. And to do it on a breaking ball was even better. Those are the kind of things that a lot of times can springboard you into getting hot, too.”
Rizzo is 1-for-7 against lefties.
Sveum said Carlos Marmol’s appearance in the eighth inning Tuesday doesn’t mean he’s the setup man.
“That’s going to be [Shawn] Camp’s and [James] Russell’s and whatever. He’s just not going to be the closer,” Sveum said. “The other roles are just going to be what they are.”
◆ Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon hasn’t allowed a run in four appearances to start his career. He has six strikeouts in 32/3 innings.