MESA, Ariz. — The kids are coming for Darwin Barney’s job, but it’s way too early to start a second-base controversy.
Javier Baez is supposed to play next to All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro at some point, and the Cubs like Arismendy Alcantara’s potential. Barney’s Gold Glove defense and off-the-charts intangibles would fit well on a contending team.
Emilio Bonifacio started at second base and hit leadoff in Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Cubs Park. Bonifacio tripled down the right-field line and scored the game’s first run, showing the different dimension he could bring to this team, leading to questions at the postgame media session.
“I look at Bonnie kind of like a Chone Figgins, where he can go here, there, everywhere,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He can go in different places, so it keeps everybody in the game and allows him the freedom to be in the lineup as often as possible. His flexibility in the National League game is obviously a big plus for us.”
So, right now, Barney is your starting second baseman?
“Yeah, that’s how I see it,” Renteria said.
Bonifacio enjoyed his best season in 2011 with the Florida Marlins, hitting .296 with a .360 on-base percentage, 26 doubles, seven triples and 40 stolen bases.
Bonifacio, 28, can play all over the infield and the outfield. The Cubs assured him he would have a great chance to make the team in a super-utility role. He signed a minor-league deal and could earn $2.5 million plus incentives after getting released by the Kansas City Royals earlier this month.