PITTSBURGH – Darwin Barney watched the Louisville-Duke NCAA tournament game from his hotel room and saw Kevin Ware’s gruesome leg injury.
A Google search for Ware and broken leg generated more than 43 million hits on Monday, the day after Louisville won one for its sophomore guard and earned a trip to the Final Four. It made Barney – who will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee laceration – pay attention.
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“Wow, I was laying in bed feeling bad for myself and then all of a sudden I felt blessed to just have a deep laceration,” Barney said at PNC Park. “Gosh, that poor guy. I’ll be back. Unfortunately, he has a lot more rehab than I do, but it definitely could have been worse. (We’ll) look at it positively and just be happy that I’m still walking right now.”
The Cubs will miss Barney, their Gold Glove second baseman who went 141 consecutive games there without an error last season. Brent Lillibridge – a super-utility player who can rotate between seven positions – committed an error at second base during the first inning of Monday’s 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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Barney gashed the knee chasing a foul ball during Saturday’s exhibition against the Houston Astros.
“I thought by sliding I’d be protecting myself. There’s a concrete corner and slab on the bottom. I ran right into that,” Barney said. “If it’s two inches lower, I’m probably fine. The fact that it’s right on my knee – you go down for a backhand and you slide (or) go headfirst diving – anything that hits on that spot could break open the stitches and start the process over. So at this point, the safe thing to do is not let that happen.”
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Barney was asked if the Cubs had raised any safety concerns with Astros officials. St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig needed offseason knee surgery after crashing into a rigid fence at Minute Maid Park in 2011.
“You know what, Wrigley Field’s lined by bricks,” Barney said, “so it would be kind of probably the wrong thing to do morally to complain about a concrete slab on the bottom of their fence.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened (in Houston) and hopefully it’s the last. But next time I’ll know to just go over the fence instead of into it.”
The Cubs selected the contract of infielder Alberto Gonzalez to add depth and designated pitcher Robert Whitenack for assignment. They already have two big rotation pieces on the disabled list – Matt Garza (lat) and Scott Baker (elbow) – as well as third baseman Ian Stewart (quad).
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“The good thing is we’re a team, and I can still be part of it,” Barney said. “I can still be out there helping out. And with Garza not here, maybe I’ll take over his yelling role. I doubt I’ll be that crazy, but you can always help in (different) ways.”