White Sox

Barney Earns Roster Spot As Cubs Shut Down Sox

Darwin Barney

Darwin Barney (AP Photo/Matt York)

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The Chicago Cubs took an early lead over the White Sox Thursday. Back-to-back homeruns in the fifth and a two run homer in the seventh brought the Sox within one run, but the Cubs stayed ahead.

The Chicago Cubs and the White Sox both took steps toward completing their Opening Day rosters on Thursday.

The Cubs cut four infielders and an outfielder. Rookie Darwin Barney has made the club as an infielder and possible starting second baseman, as well as veteran non-roster man Reed Johnson.

The White Sox named rookie Brent Morel their starting third baseman and reaffirmed that Phil Humber would be their fifth starter.

Barney had a big day, hitting a two-run triple and a single in the Cubs’ 8-7 victory over their crosstown rivals. He also had a hand in turning two double plays.

“It’s good to know that Phase 1 is done,” said Barney, who played in 30 games for the Cubs last year. “The job’s done. I worked my (butt) off. I’m breaking with the Chicago Cubs. It’s pretty amazing. Now the focus is on the team. It’s on winning.”

The Cubs opened camp with a platoon at second of Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt. However, DeWitt has struggled this spring, batting .167, and will now take grounders at third base in addition to second in preparation for a possible backup role at both spots.

“He’s struggled,” said manager Mike Quade. “But we’re going to be patient with him. He’s 25 years old. He’s a .260 lifetime big-league hitter. We’re going to expect him to get a lot better. I’ve asked him to play nothing but second base. We will change that a little bit. We’re going to continue his work at second. We’re going to ask him to take some balls at third and look at it as that being a possibility as well.

“I’ve been thrilled to death with the way Baker and Barney have played. We know what Bake accomplished last year against left-handed pitching, and Barney’s a young kid who’s on the come. It’s still a competition. You’ve still got to perform.”

The Cubs jumped on Humber for two runs in the first inning and one in the second. Humber (0-2) worked 4 1-3 innings, giving up five hits and seven runs. He also walked four and struck out four.

“My command today was terrible,” Humber said. “Not just the walks, but falling behind guys. It’s hard to expect good results when you’re walking guys and falling behind like this.”

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he was not disappointed in Humber’s performance and that he’d likely start April 6 against the Royals.

“No, the first inning was a little struggle,” Guillen said. “I don’t see anybody out there better than what we have. This guy already has the innings.”

Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza (1-3) worked five innings, giving up eight hits and three runs. He walked two and struck out four.

The Cubs got a fourth-inning solo homer from Alfonso Soriano, his third of the spring. The White Sox got homers from Omar Vizquel (No. 2), Alexei Ramirez (No. 4) and Donny Lucy (No. 1).

Notes: The Cubs optioned OF Fernando Perez to Class AAA Iowa. They also assigned non-roster infielders Matt Camp, Scott Moore, Augie Ojeda and Bobby Scales to their minor-league complex. … White Sox OF Juan Pierre fouled a ball off his right shin in his third plate appearance and left the game after finishing the at-bat. The White Sox said the move was precautionary and that Pierre’s injury is not serious.

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