PITTSBURGH -- Darwin Barney matched his career high with four hits Tuesday, and he was batting .440 in his last seven games. The difference may have been a talk with Cubs manager Dale Sveum that lasted well into the early morning.
Barney went to Sveum's apartment after the May 7 night game against the Cardinals.
"We ended up talking about hitting and approach," Barney said, "and what good hitters do and what makes a good hitter and where in my career did I think that I had to be one dimensional and that I had to hit the ball the other way and take the inside pitch the other way.
"It was just one of those nights where we talked about a lot of baseball stuff, and not necessarily me the whole time, but the game and what it takes to be successful and where I could be," Barney said. "With the defense I bring, there's a chance of being a different kind of player, a game-changing player. We ended up talking until 2:30, 3 o'clock."
The next day, with little sleep, Sveum and Barney were on the field before the Cubs' day game, and the manager was throwing batting practice to the second baseman. The emphasis was on hitting the ball as hard as he could, not worrying about where it went.
"It felt like Little League again," Barney said. "You're just out there and not thinking about your mechanics and just trying to drive the ball, and that was the start of changing my approach and thoughts. It took something like that to get me off of it. I always went back to the success I had in the past, hitting the ball the other way, whenever I would struggle."
Sveum has seen a change.
"Some of the adjustments he's made have obviously been paying off with his mindset and aggressiveness," Sveum said. "That's all you ask for is understand what hitting is really all about, and your job is to hit the ball hard and not care where the ball goes. Your job is to use the whole field and not try to use one piece of it."
Tuesday was one of those good days for Barney, who scuffled through an 0-for-24 stretch earlier this month.
"I hit the ball hard, and that's the goal, where in the past, the balls I've hit on the ground, pull side, and haven't been hit very hard," Barney said. "The bright side is I'm hitting the ball hard on the ground, and that'll lead to line drives. ... For the time being, I'm pretty happy with the adjustments I've made, and hopefully we can keep building on them."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less