Darwin Barney Cubs Starter at 2nd Base in Home Opener – Wrigley Field 3/31/11

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Lou

Manager Mike Quade announced that Darwin Barney will be the Cubs starting 2nd baseman for the 2011 club on Friday.  Barney will be the first rookie to start on Opening Day since Kosuke Fukudome started in right for the Cubs as a 30-year old rookie back in 2008.  Barney compiled a solid .340 batting average in 21 spring training games.  Jeff Baker put up a good fight with Barney, hitting .360 in 19 Cactus League games, but Quade opted to go with the rookie right off the bat.  Barney is excited to make the start – “No butterflies yet, but I’m excited.  It’s a great opportunity, but there’s one thing on my mind, and that’s trying to win the ballgame.  And I think that’s what this whole team is looking to do.  We’re looking to get off to a good start.”

Blake DeWitt, who was considered the front runner heading into spring training this February for the starting 2nd base job, had a rough spring.  DeWitt hit only .186 in 21 spring games as he continues to work through the mechanics of a new swing with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.  That being said, Quade also indicated that the left-handed hitting DeWitt will likely start at 2nd base against a right-handed pitcher early on this season – probably in the 1st week.

This is a surprising outcome, but if you go with performance, Barney clearly had the bet showing in spring training this year.  It is also great to see that Quade has control over the team and can make his own decisions without having to worry about GM Jim Hendry trying to influence things too much.  Naming Ryan Dempster the Cubs’ opening day starter instead of Carlos Zambrano is another example of Quade making his own decisions and doing whatever it takes to give his club the best chance to win each day.  I like his attitude and make–up so far.  Now we’ll have to see if it translates consistently into W’s this season…

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