"He's not feeling very good at the plate," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday of the second baseman, who was batting .258 overall and .205 this month. "He was here on his day off hitting -- I saw him here. He's one of those guys who is a grinder and is doing everything he can to make himself a better player."
Barney has been making contact but is not making excuses.
"You want to use a lot of things as excuses for slumps but the bottom line is they happen and the last two or three days, he's lined out about four times to the center fielder and hit the ball hard," Sveum said. "You can look too far into some things and get a little confused about slumps and pitch selection and when to be aggressive and when not to be, too. Sometimes it's not just mechanical."
Barney has noticed some bad trends.
"I didn't get [to the big leagues] by pulling the ball," Barney said. "I didn't get here having my contact point out front. I got here by letting the ball get deep and stuff like that. We're working at getting better at being me and getting back to that and getting back to that approach."
The ironman second baseman, who was expected to get a day off at some point during the Cubs' current 20-game stretch, does have the potential to be a .300 hitter, Sveum said. He hit .276 last year.
"I think he can be, and I think he knows some of the adjustments he has to make to get some things working on the back side so it's not such a dead back side to where he can get some length through the strike zone with his bat," Sveum said. "The hand-eye coordination, the strength, the hand speed, it all should play into a .290, .310 hitter someday."
OK, so what was Barney doing in the cage on his day off?
"I had nothing else to do," Barney said Sunday. "It was about 3 in the afternoon, and I was like, 'I can sit here all day or I can get something done.' I decided to go over there and work a little bit in the cage. That's why we're here. You don't get too many opportunities and before you know it, it'll be over. I thought, why not go get something done?"