Darwin Barney suffers cruelest cut, figures to go on DL
By GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org March 30, 2013 8:23PM
Updated: May 1, 2013 4:05PM
HOUSTON — Already without two starting pitchers as the season opens, the Cubs are down a Gold Glove second baseman after Darwin Barney badly cut his knee trying to make a sliding catch in the exhibition finale Saturday against the Astros.
Barney needed five stitches to close a deep cut over his left kneecap after banging the knee against a concrete lip at the bottom of the low wall down the right-field line in the third inning.
“It’s not fun,” said Barney, who likely is headed to the disabled list. “You just can’t believe something like that would happen, but that’s the game. You have to go after pop-ups. Unfortunately for me, there was for some reason a concrete slab right there at the edge of the field.”
Barney came out of the game right away, but the severity of the injury wasn’t known until he got to the trainer’s room.
“I could pretty much see the bone,” Barney said.
It was scheduled to be his final inning regardless.
“You don’t want to lose that Opening Day defense and everything, when you’ve got your best pitcher on the mound and all that,” manager Dale Sveum said.
Utility man Brent Lillibridge, who finished the game at second, is expected to replace Barney in the lineup against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
As bad as it looked, it could have been a lot worse for Barney, who appeared from a distance to hit his head on the wall.
“I wish,” he said. “If I’d lost a couple teeth, I’d be playing Monday.”
Middle infielder Alberto Gonzalez, the last position player cut from big-league camp, is the likeliest in-house candidate to join the team if Barney goes on the DL. However, that would require creating a spot on the 40-man roster.
The Cubs already were looking for help outside the organization in the final days leading up to the opener. Barney’s injury could hasten that process.
Sveum said he hasn’t been told of any impending moves.
Several minor-league players were released from the organization at the end of the week as part of the usual process of filling out minor-league rosters. Among them were former 22-game winner Dontrelle Willis, catcher Michael Brenly (Bob Brenly’s son) and 2010 first-round draft pick Hayden Simpson, a right-handed reliever.
Willis pitched in a big-league game for the Cubs early in camp as a non-roster invitee and left with a sore shoulder after seven pitches. He began pitching again on the minor-league side within days, and the injury wasn’t considered a factor in his performance this spring.
All-Star infielder Tim Wallach’s son, pitcher Brett, also was among the released players.
ASTROS 6, CUBS 3
LEFT IN STITCHES: Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney will miss the opener Monday after suffering a deep cut on his left knee crashing into the low wall down the right-field line attempting a sliding catch. The cut took stitches to close, and the medical staff will determine in the next day or so whether he’ll go on the disabled list.
MARMOL AID? The Cubs’ closer finished off his spring work with his third consecutive uneven outing. He walked the leadoff man, then gave up a single in an eighth inning that unraveled defensively and resulted in three runs. Marmol got one out on a potential double-play because of a wide relay throw by prospect Arismendy Alcantara, who threw away another ball later in the eighth. Marmol couldn’t finish the inning. “He actually threw the ball pretty good today,” manager Dale Sveum said. His slider was really good. He got weak contact, and we just couldn’t make the plays.”
WOOD CHUCKS: Left-hander Travis Wood got his final tune-up before his first regular-season start Thursday, throwing 74 pitches in 41/3 innings. He allowed one run, three hits and a walk until the shaky fifth, in which he gave up two singles and two walks and threw a wild pitch.
ON DECK: The Cubs are off Sunday, then open the season Monday in Pittsburgh. Jeff Samardzija faces A.J. Burnett (12:35 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM).