Barney gets Cubs' Opening Day nod at second

Barney gets Cubs' Opening Day nod at second

CHICAGO -- Rookie second baseman Darwin Barney will start Friday for the Cubs in the season opener against the Pirates.

Cubs manager Mike Quade announced the lineup Thursday before a workout at Wrigley Field. Barney will be the first Cubs rookie to start Opening Day since Kosuke Fukudome did in 2008.

"No butterflies yet, but I'm excited," Barney said. "It's a great opportunity, but there's one thing on my mind, and that's trying to win the ballgame. And I think that's what this whole team is looking to do. We're looking to get off to a good start.

"There are a couple other guys who deserved it as well," Barney said. "They'll contribute, if not tomorrow or the next day. I feel fortunate."

The rest of the Cubs' lineup will be Fukudome in right, shortstop Starlin Castro, center fielder Marlon Byrd, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, first baseman Carlos Pena, catcher Geovany Soto, left fielder Alfonso Soriano, Barney and pitcher Ryan Dempster.

Barney, who hit a two-run homer in Wednesday's intrasquad game in Mesa, Ariz., batted .340 in 21 games this spring. Jeff Baker, who hit .360 in 19 Cactus League games, will get the start at second base on Saturday against Pirates lefty Paul Maholm.

"There were a lot of guys who had good camps," Quade said. "[Barney] and Baker had great camps and they both earned a chance to play. Barring something crazy, 'Bake' will start against the left-hander on the second day."

Blake DeWitt, the Cubs' other option at second base, struggled this spring, batting .186 in 21 games.

Barney started two games at second base last season at Triple-A Iowa, playing primarily at shortstop.

"Coming into spring, it's not really what I was expecting to be at the end, but about midway through I felt very comfortable at second base, which was new for me," he said. "The time in the offseaon I spent working at it and thinking about it paid off."