ST. LOUIS – Dale Sveum has heard the criticism of his second baseman’s hitting, the calls for using a pinch-hitter in Darwin Barney’s place when the Cubs are in greatest need of a hit late in a game.
But he’s not listening – in part because the options are pretty sparse on most nights. But in larger part because of this:
“The guy gives you a battle up there and he’ll put the ball in play in situations,” Sveum said. “He’s gotten some big hits for us – as big of hits as anybody in those situations.”
One of them, of course, was in Saturday night’s eighth inning, when – after hard-throwing Trevor Rosenthal struck out Starlin Castro and Cody Ransom – Barney doubled home two runs to tie a game the Cubs would eventually win 6-5.
It’s part of why “winning player” is a term that almost always finds its way into any descriptions of Barney by Cubs staff.
“He’s just a guy that you know is going to battle, and [facing] velocity he’ll foul it off and get there and put it in play and give you a great at-bat,” Sveum said.
With two out and runners at the corners in the fourth inning Sunday, Barney did little more than that — and still drove in a run with an infield single. He came back in the sixth with two men on, and grounded a tying single up the middle.
“It’s not like he’s a major power or RBI guy or anything like that,” Sveum said. “But when you’re in those situations, there’s certain guys sometimes you like up there because they’re better in those situations.
“They are going to put the ball in play. … That’s why you stick with guys like that.”