Darwin Barney is changing his swing daily, and it’s not working.
Barney struck out with the bases loaded and the Cubs down a run to end the game Friday. The second baseman is hitting .179 since coming off the disabled list April 16.
"We all know Barney. He's always working and trying,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “I think he needs to try to stick with one thing and go with that because there's a lot of changing going on every single day."
The irony, though, is that when asked what about Barney’s swing could be improved, Sveum said, “A lot of things. We don’t have enough time for it.”
There’s plenty for Barney to think about, and his problem might be that he does. The Cubs worked on Barney’s swing in Spring Training, but “he kind of abandoned it,” Sveum said.
Sveum said Barney’s issues are mechanical –- he needs to get the head of the bat to a certain point quicker.
Barney hit .254 last year but had an on-base percentage of just .299. He knew he needed to get on base more this year, and despite his slow start offensively, he has a .303 on-base percentage.
"He's been good lately laying off of pitches and getting his walks,” Sveum said. “But we all know as hitters there's that fine line. Then balls get too deep and you're 0-2 and had two really good pitches to hit."
Barney will bat eighth Saturday against Reds 23-year-old Tony Cingrani, who has been one of the league’s best young starters so far this season. Cingrani, who is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, throws about 91-92 mph, but Sveum said it seems more like 94-95.
"Any kind of elevation is very difficult to get on top of,” Sveum said. “It's almost like playing pepper and finding the top of the ball, using your hands to stay on top of it. You can't keep your same swing. It just won't work."
Relaxed Navarro keeps getting pinch-hits
Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro had another pinch-hit Friday, making him 5-for-9 on the season as a pinch-hitter. He’s tied for the Major League lead with two pinch-hit homers.
"I think his personality has a lot to do with that,” Sveum said. “He's not a guy that's up there thinking a lot. But he's also a guy that can make adjustments."
When Navarro starts, though, it’s a different story. He is 2-for-26 as the Cubs starting catcher.
“It’s kinda weird,” said Sveum, who said he went through a similar stretch as a player.