Emilio Bonifacio to battle ‘starter’ Darwin Barney at second
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff REporter February 28, 2014 10:09AM
Arizona Diamondbacks Miguel Montero (26) is forced out by Chicago Cubs Emilio Bonifacio during the second inning of a spring training baseball game, Thursday, Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
MESA, Ariz. – Cubs manager Rick Renteria says Darwin Barney is his starting second baseman, but he seems to like the idea of newcomer Emilio Bonifacio getting regular at-bats – which could put Barney in a position of fending off Bonifacio for full-time work.
Asked if there was a job battle there, Renteria said, “Not necessarily.”
“I look at Bonni kind of like a Chone Figgins,” Renteria said of the super utility player, “where he can go here, there. He can play a lot of places, so it keeps everybody in the game and allow shim the freedom to be in the lineup as often as possible.”
Bonifacio, who showed off some big-time speed on a leadoff triple in the first inning of Thursday’s spring opener, has played all three outfield spots and all three infield spots left of first base in his career. But he’s a natural second baseman.
“His flexibility is obviously a big plus for us,” Renteria said.
The bigger part of keeping him in the lineup is to give the Cubs more options near the top of the order.
“I’ve done more research on a lot of guys, including Starlin [Castro], and there are guys that in the No. 1 hole have been, their numbers show, on-base type of guys,” the manager said.
Castro has a .345 on-base percentage in 524 career plate appearances as a leadoff hitter – his highest OBP for any spot with more than five PAs.
Bonifacio, despite almost twice as many PAs in the leadoff spot (1,075) has a .327 OBP there.
“As the spring progresses, any number of things can [develop],” Renteria said.