Good news, everyone! In addition to his Gold-Glove defense, Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney has announced that he’s going to try to hit the baseball this year. We’re all very pleased.
“Obviously you want to keep the same standards defensively, keep that work ethic up,” he said. “Offensively, we’ve been working on a lot of things with my approach. A couple of tweaks mechanically — just trying to find a way to stay consistent and keep out of those ruts.”
Barney hit .254 with a .299 on- base percentage in 2012, down from .276/.313 in his rookie season in 2011. He excelled at Wrigley Field (.303) but struggled on the road (.206).
Sveum said last year that Barney could be a .300 hitterbut he has to prove it. Sveum, hitting coach James Rowson and assistant hitting coach Rob Deer worked with Barney in November in Arizona to boost his slugging percentage.
Because if there’s anyone who knows about hitting, it’s Rob Deer. Seriously, I thought Cubs manager Dale Sveum was tossing his old buddy a bone by putting Deer on staff. I didn’t know he was going to let him, you know, actually work with the talent.
Speaking of trying to hit, it’s been a while since we caught up with erstwhile Cubs star prospect and hottie-in-residence Brett Jackson, who is also working on hitting the baseball . . . more.
MESA, Ariz. — An intense week of hitting in November may help Brett Jackson become the hitter the Cubs think he can be.
Jackson and teammate Darwin Barney spent time with Cubs manager Dale Sveum, hitting coach James Rowson and assistant hitting coach Rob Deer at Fitch Park. After striking out 59 times in 120 big league at-bats — and 158 times at Triple-A Iowa — Jackson needed some help. His hands are lower now, and his swing is more compact.
“It has to do with using more of my top hand,” Jackson said of the changes. “I’m a right-hand dominant athlete, and I have a tendency to try to overdo it a little bit with my bottom hand. If you watch swings from last year, you know my back elbow was getting really high and causing kind of like a teetering effect and making me slightly late on everything.
“Now, I’m working on just keeping my back elbow down and being shorter to the ball, amongst other things, but that’s the biggest adjustment,” he said.
And again Rob Deer rears his non-hittsy head. At least we’ll know who to blame when our hitters start screwing themselves into the ground.
But hitters aren’t the only once wookin’ pa nub this off-season. Travis Wood, in particular, really wants the Cubs to save a place for him at the cool kids’ lunch table. Am I the only one who completely forgot Travis Wood was still on the roster?
“I’m still fighting for a job,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. We have a lot of good guys here.”
Wood didn’t have a good spring last year, giving up 17 earned runs on 24 hits over 14 1/3 innings in five games, and was assigned to Triple-A Iowa. He made a spot start for the Cubs on May 6 against the Dodgers, and delivered a quality start — three hits and three runs over six innings. He joined the big league team for good May 22, and then went on a little bit of a roller-coaster ride. Wood won four straight starts from June 19-July 6, then went 0-8 in his next 10 starts.
“That’s baseball,” Wood said. “It could’ve been mechanical, it could’ve been bad luck. Who knows? You’ll never know. I felt I finished the season strong. I think it was right after the All-Star break, I had a few bad games, and then finished strong. I try not to think about it, it’s a new year.”
If you have to work this hard to be included, then they’re not really good teammates, are they Travis?
And I don’t know about you guys, but I’m 0n the edge of my train car seat, waiting to find out if Sammy knows that the Cubs gave Scott Hairston his number.
Hairston, the son of former White Sox player Jerry Hairston and the brother of former Cub Jerry Hairston Jr., will be playing all three outfield positions at Wrigley the next two years, and will be wearing Sosa’s No. 21 as well.
“That’s what they gave me,” he said. “I’ll take it. It’s a nice number. Who wouldn’t want to be 21.”
Did you get that, you guys? It’s not like Hairston demanded or even asked to wear number 21. They just gave it to him. If the Chicago Cubs really want to repair the relationship with Sammy Sosa, this is probably not the way to do it. On the other hand, if the Cubs want to flip Sammy the bird in front of the entire world, giving Scott Hairston his number is exactly the way to do it.
Don’t forget that Wrigley Talk Friday returns tomorrow at 2 pm CT on Blog Talk Radio. Seriously, I don’t know why so many of you gujys listen to this trainwreck of a podcast, but we’re grateful that you do! As long as you keep listening, we’ll keep doing the show.
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