"I'm a little overwhelmed from watching him from the other side," Sveum said of the Cubs' second baseman. "He's a lot stronger and a lot quicker than I thought. His first step is really good. He's still learning second base, and there are some things I've talked to him about around the bag.
"The ball is coming off his bat really well. I've been really impressed. He's one of those ultimate professionals, who will try to make himself a better player every day."
Barney followed a program outlined by Tim Buss, the club's strength and conditioning coach, and regained the weight he lost last season. He's now 190 pounds and looks stronger. It should help him handle the grind of a 162-game season, too.
"You've got one shot, one window in this game, and my thought was, 'Why not now?'" Barney said. "Let's try to get better, let's do what I have to do."
Barney played more shortstop than second base in the Minor Leagues, so he's still making the adjustment. Sveum, who also played second, has helped in the transition. They've talked about positioning for double plays -- things that Barney didn't have a chance to learn.
Sveum is still learning the players on his roster, even though he saw the Cubs' 16 games each year while with the Brewers.
"You're not watching them thinking, 'Hey, I'm going to get that job next year, and I better watch these guys,'" Sveum said. "That's not one of the things you do as a coach on the other team. You're trying to beat the other team."