By Bruce Levine-
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney is in for the fight of his young baseball career.
After an awful offensive campaign in 2013 in which he hit .208, Barney has to show the team he can still hit for average. He has also has to deal with his name coming in trade discussions, most recently in the past week as the New York Mets look for shortstop and second base fortification.
Barney has heard his name as part of trade rumors since July of 2012, and the feisty infielder has developed a hard shell around the rumor mill.
“That is part of the game,” he said. “Obviously any player that gets traded always looks at the bright side of things. If you’re traded that means you are wanted somewhere. I am excited to be here, and rumors are rumors.”
The Mets have been contacting clubs about middle infielders. Other than Barney, they have had conversations with Seattle about Nick Franklin, while still considering signing free agent Stepehn Drew.
Despite the off year in 2013, Barney is still considered a .260 hitter by many scouts. He also brings a great glove and leadership ability to the ballpark with him each day.
The 28-year-old Barney won a Gold Glove in 2012 and made only four errors in 2013, a season in which he also added eight pounds of muscle to his chest and arms. Barney has now backed away from the heavy weights, believing the weight training may have caused the infielder to lose flexibility with his swing.
Now he’ll just focus on rebounding.
“The rumors can be distracting, but in the end it is not distracting,” Barney said. “Regardless of what is going on, you have to get your work done. None of that matters until it happens, so as player we try not to worry about that.”
Bruce Levine is a baseball reporter/analyst for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.