"I almost needed him to say it again because I wasn't expecting it," Barney said.
The infielder takes Mike Fontenot's spot on the Cubs roster after Fontenot was dealt to the Giants on Wednesday for a Minor League outfielder. Barney walked into the visitor's clubhouse at AT&T Park around 11 a.m. PT with his suitcase, bat bag and duffel bag. He didn't mind the 4 a.m. CT wakeup call. It happens all the time in the Minor Leagues.
"This is something you work for your whole life," Barney said. "You don't think it's inevitable because it's not easy. The timing has to be right and the club has to want you and all these different things. You can't take anything for granted but keep working hard and hope it will pay off."
He changed into a Cubs T-shirt and shorts, made the rounds of the clubhouse to shake hands with the other players, then grabbed a donut. Acting Cubs manager Alan Trammell stopped by and Barney asked if he was in the lineup. Not yet.
"This was a nice surprise," Barney said.
Barney was leading all Triple-A hitters with 142 hits this season. He was batting .297 for Iowa with 24 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 71 runs scored and 49 RBIs. He has primarily played shortstop, starting at second base on Opening Day and again one week ago.
The second time he started at second, Barney thought there might be a chance he could get a call. He decided to get some help at second and spent more than an hour with Iowa manager and Hall of Fame second baseman Sandberg.
"The big difference is turning double plays," Barney said. "That's the one thing I feel I'm working on and I need to polish up. Whatever they want me to do, that's what I'll do."
Barney and Sandberg have moved up together through the Cubs' Minor League system, beginning in Class A Peoria in 2007.
"For me, he has a lot to do with my development," Barney said. "The way he comes off as a manager and makes the clubhouse feel good ... guys just want to play hard every day. You know what he expects and you know he wants to compete as much or more than you. That's his nature."