By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) Darwin Barney has been through the emotional ringer this offseason. For one, he’s heard his name in the trade rumor mill all winter, whispers that continue to swirl around him daily.
Barney has also been in a battle to win back a job that he has never officially lost. He has been shuffled between shortstop and second all spring, a season after he believed putting on added muscle around his chest and upper arms hurt his batting stroke in 2013.
This offseason, Barney went back to basics and rediscovered his baseball body. In some ways he has had to prove himself to the Cubs and every scout that was sent to watch him this spring.
“We have had numerous conversations,” Barney said about his relationship with new manager Rick Renteria. “I was told I would get in my work at second and if (Starlin) Castro is not ready, it is a good possibility I am playing shortstop. I will play where I need to play and try to get this team off to a good start.”
Barney hit .206 last season, which in some scouting reports make him nothing more than a utility player. The essence of this player is far better than that, when you consider Barney’s leadership qualities and his determination to win every day.
“I don ‘t worry about that,” Barney said. “It is all about winning, and whatever role it is thats the role I am going to play.”
The 29-year-old Barney has been intensely scouted by many clubs, most recently the Dodgers and Rangers, who will be without second baseman Jurickson Profar for two to three months as he recovers from a torn muscle in his shoulder.
Renteria said Barney will play second base. The question here is how much? Newcomer Emilio Bonifacio has had an electric spring and will lead off and play different positions, and Barney’s spot is one of the positions Bonifacio plays well.
Nevertheless, many see value in Barney.
“Hey there are 30 teams, and a player like Barney will make one of them better,” a scout said Monday night.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.