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Barney holds Sveum's confidence in late at-bats

Barney holds Sveum's confidence in late at-bats

Barney holds Sveum's confidence in late at-bats

ST. LOUIS -- If you're one of the fans who has been clamoring for Dale Sveum to pinch-hit for Darwin Barney, the Cubs manager has heard you. And he's not going to do it.

"It's hard for me to ever [pinch-hit for him] because the guy gives you a battle up there and he'll put the ball in play in situations," Sveum said Sunday of the second baseman. "He's gotten some big hits for us. He's just a guy who you know is going to battle and [against a pitcher with] velocity, he'll put it in play and give you a great at-bat."

Barney entered Sunday's game against the Cardinals batting .212 overall, but he's hitting .255 with runners in scoring position with two outs, and .278 in close and late situations. On Saturday, he delivered a game-tying two-run double with two outs in the eighth, and then scored on pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro's RBI double.

"It's not like [Barney] is a major power, RBI guy," Sveum said, "but when you're in situations, there are certain guys you like up there because they're better in situations. All you need is for the ball to hit the outfield grass and that's why you stick with guys like that. You don't need something huge, just to have the ball hit the outfield grass."

It's been a tough year for Barney, who batted .276 in 2011. Sveum worked with Barney in Arizona in the offseason for a few days, but the manager said on Sunday that the second baseman "didn't really stick with that too much."

Now, the Cubs are hoping Barney and others can wrap up the season on a good note.

"You'd like everybody to finish strong for the team's sake, for their own sake, for their own sanity sometimes going into the winter," Sveum said. "There's that saying, it's not how you start, it's how you finish, and that's true in a lot of situations."

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.

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