Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney begins a rehab assignment Saturday in Iowa, but he had one last bit of business to take care of in Chicago before he begins his way back to patrolling the infield at Wrigley Field.
Barney received his Gold Glove Award before Friday’s game between the Cubs and Giants during a pregame ceremony.
“It’ll be exciting. It’ll be good to actually see it,” Barney said. “It’s been a long time since I won the award, and I haven’t been able to look at it. It’s exciting to get. I’m ready to start the campaign for a new one.”
Barney joked that the award probably won’t leave his side for quite some time.
“I kind of plan on holding it for a couple days. I won’t put it down. The wife will have to move to the couch for a couple days,” he joked.
It was quite the start to a big weekend for the recovering second baseman. In addition to receiving his trophy on Friday, he had the stitches removed from his left knee, which was lacerated during the end of Spring Training.
Saturday, he’ll begin his rehab assignment with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out there, see some pitches, get some at-bats and then come back and try to help the club as much as I can,” Barney said. “I feel like I’m ready now. I felt like I was ready a few days ago. It’s just a matter of getting that first slide out of the way. I’ve kept my arm in shape, and I’ve seen pitches and all that. It wasn’t an injury where I couldn’t go and do things. I could still be active. And so I feel like I’m going to be ready when I come back.”
Errors piling up for Cubs
The Cubs might not be atop the standings, but they do lead all of baseball in one statistical category, albeit one they’re probably not too proud of.
Entering play Friday, the Cubs had committed 10 errors on the season, the most in Major League Baseball.
Thursday’s series-opener against the Giants helped the Cubs stake their spot on top of the not-so-prestigious leader board. Starting pitcher Scott Feldman dropped a flip from Anthony Rizzo at first base in the first inning, and shortstop Starlin Castro misplayed a groundball off the bat of opposing pitcher Ryan Vogelsong in the Giants’ four-run fourth inning. Castro’s fielding mistake -- his third of the season -- was considerably more costly, leading to a quartet of unearned runs in the Cubs’ 7-6 loss.
“It’s glaring early. Everything is always glaring early,” said infielder Brent Lillibridge. “We had a couple games we should’ve won, and it should have been over. It was up to us, the defense, to do it. The pitchers have been doing their jobs for the most part, especially in this cold weather. Not a lot of people are hitting the ball that hard. It’s our job to catch all the mishit balls. And we take a lot of pride in it, and it’s frustrating. You see the guys are frustrated because they do care. We’ve just got to improve on it and continue to stay the course.”
Castro was tied for the second-most errors among big-league shortstops entering play Friday. Ian Desmond of the Nationals and Ruben Tejada of the Mets each had four.
“I don’t think these errors are because of physical ability,” manager Dale Sveum said. “I think we’ve made probably half our errors just on pure unawareness of how much time we had to make the play or the throw. Yesterday, for instance, charging the ball way too much for a pitcher that hit the ball.”
The Cubs also have the unfortunate distinction of leading the National Leagues in walks. They entered play Friday having issued 36 free passes, tied with the Cardinals’ pitching staff for the most in the league.
“Errors, it’s like walking somebody. The formula of winning doesn’t come into play when you’re leading the league in walks and errors,” Sveum said. “You’re going to lose games. That’s the way baseball is. Those are two formulas that don’t go good together, and you’re going to lose when you walk people and put them on base. And obviously then errors do get magnified. That’s part of the game, and blaming the weather -- a lot of people are playing in bad weather right now.”
Lillibridge relieved to snap season-opening slump
It had been a while since Brent Lillibridge had picked up a hit.
He started this season 0-for-18 before finally gathering his first hit in Thursday’s series-opener with the Giants. And he couldn’t be happier that it finally came.
“It was important to get a hit,” Lillibridge said. “A lot of people, myself included, have gone 0-for-15, 0-for-16 during a span. It just really doesn’t happen during the first seven, eight games. It stands out with all the zeroes. The biggest thing was just having a quality at-bat with two outs and the bases loaded. All I wanted to do was try to hit the ball somewhere up the middle so I could just make a quality swing and hopefully it dropped.”
Drop it did. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Lillibridge singled off Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong to drive in a pair of teammates and give the Cubs a temporary 5-0 lead.
“It can wear on you a little bit. I was very relieved to get that one to drop in and more importantly get two RBIs out of it and score some runs,” Lillibridge said. “I think I’d take a hit here and there if I could get a couple RBIs every time I do get a hit. I’d be pretty happy. It was a good start to hopefully move forward and really help this team offensively to score some runs.”
Clevenger gets start at third base
Steve Clevenger might be familiar to most fans as a catcher, where he’s played all but 37 innings of his big league career. But Clevenger, who played infield plenty after being drafted by the Cubs in 2007, got his first start at third base Friday against the Giants.
“[Cubs manager Dale Sveum] gave me a heads up yesterday I was going to play third today. I got my groundballs in. And like I’ve said, I feel very comfortable over there,” Clevenger said. “I played infield when I was first drafted. It’s nothing new to me, just getting the reps.”
Clevenger has played third base in the Majors before, albeit in short spurts. Prior to Friday’s game, he had logged an inning at the hot corner already this season, and he played one inning there last season. He started three times and appeared nine times total as a first baseman in 2012. So he’s not necessarily a stranger to the infield.
“It’s just getting the reps and getting the groundballs and getting comfortable with the position,” Clevenger said. “I was mainly a middle infielder, but it’s just a reaction position over at third. It’s basically just catch it and throw it. So you don’t really have too much time to think about it.”
Vinnie Duber is a contributor to CSNChicago.com