Barney to keep aggressive approach in field

Barney to keep aggressive approach in field

Barney to keep aggressive approach in field
ATLANTA -- When Steve Clevenger starts at first base, he positions himself near the bag and draws a line in the dirt next to his right foot. Clevenger jokes that he's responsible for the small area to the left of that line. Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney has everything else.

Barney has made so many acrobatic plays lately, it's hard to keep up. In Monday's 4-1 win over the Braves, he made two spinning catches on back-to-back plays in the eighth.

"That's about as good as it gets," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday of his second baseman's highlights. "Those kind of plays and the defense he's had all season long are incredible. It's hard to believe there's been a better second baseman in baseball this year than Barney. Maybe somebody as good, but not better, that's for sure."

Barney entered Tuesday's game with a 66-game errorless streak, totaling 543 1/3 innings. His last miscue was in the eighth inning April 17 in Miami. The last Cubs middle infielder with a longer streak was Mike Fontenot, who had a 90-game stretch from May 7, 2008-June 30, 2009.

"I wouldn't say it's important," Barney said of his streak. "Just contributing is important. Obviously, there are goals, and one of my goals that [infield coach Pat Listach] and I talked about is trying to win accolades defensively, which isn't easy to do.

"The one to get is the Gold Glove. It's been said it's an offensive award, it's been said it's a Rawlings award -- I don't wear Rawlings. If there's anything that's kind of where my sights are, that's it more than my errorless streak."

He wants to be aggressive and realizes that approach could result in errors.

"There was a line drive the other day and I caught it and threw it to first really fast, and that's the kind of play I'm not not going to make because of something like that. I'm still going to be aggressive."

Listach has been key in helping Barney with his positioning. They study spray charts on hitters. But the second baseman still has to be athletic to get to balls.

"It's his double-play turns, it's just everything -- his work ethic and a guy who goes out there every single day to try to be a Gold Glover, a real Gold Glover," Sveum said.

"The positioning is helping a lot," Barney said. "It's putting us in a better situation to succeed against guys. But more than that, it puts you in a defensive mindset. You're moving around and trying to get in a perfect spot. If I have a different feeling for a guy than [Listach] does, I'm going to move. This game is all about intuition and people moving guys. It gets your head in the game on a defensive level."

Has he told rookie first baseman Anthony Rizzo to get out of his way?

"Not really," Barney said. "I like my first basemen to go after everything. I don't want them to assume I'm going to get to a ball. ... Someone as athletic as Rizzo, I'd rather he goes hard until I call him off."

Barney isn't going for the personal recognition.

"Let's win 20 in a row and be back in the hunt," he said. "That's kind of what the goal is, more than anything personal. Right now we're playing well and playing good defense and getting timely hitting. Who knows?"