Notes: Cubs bid fond farewell to Barrett
Bowen welcomed while team wishes former catcher the best
ARLINGTON -- When Rob Bowen joins the Cubs, he'll be used as the regular catcher, most likely starting Thursday, manager Lou Piniella said.
Bowen, acquired from the San Diego Padres along with a Minor League outfielder for Michael Barrett, arrived in time for Wednesday's Cubs game against the Texas Rangers. He was not in the lineup; Koyie Hill was behind the plate.
"We got a young catcher with Major League experience and some upside potential," Piniella said of Bowen, who was hitting .268 with eight doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs in 30 games with the Padres. "He does a nice job handling the pitching staff. He's a switch-hitting catcher, and we're hoping this young man comes here and does well for us as we're hoping Michael goes over and helps San Diego and does well there. We'd like to see this deal work well for both teams."
Barrett has had a rough few weeks, highlighted by his June 1 scuffle with Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano would not comment on the deal Wednesday.
The trade, which caught many of the players by surprise, looks as if the Cubs wanted to deal Barrett.
"I wouldn't construe it that way," Piniella said. "I made my point clear about a week ago when I basically said that Michael works hard, that I was very comfortable with him, and that he wants to do well.
"You look at this deal from a standpoint that we're getting a catcher who we can control for the next three or four years, and we're getting a nice, young left-handed bat [outfielder Kyler Burke] in the system who we can put in the system and grow in the system," Piniella said. "That's the way I would look at this deal."
Barrett had a good relationship with the Cubs pitchers, too.
"I can speak for myself, and he and I got along very well," said Rich Hill, who was involved in an animated discussion in the dugout June 12 at Wrigley Field with Barrett. "It's unfortunate that's part of the business, and it's the part of the business that's not fun. He was a team leader and a great guy. He's somebody I looked up to, and he's helped me out a lot in my career. Early on, he helped me through struggles. He's going to be missed."
Barrett did have some defensive lapses and had been charged with five errors and eight passed balls in 52 games. Last year, he made five errors and was charged with 10 passed balls in 102 games.
"What I found is that I needed to rest him more than I did, and I mentioned that," Piniella said. "Unfortunately, being new here, I didn't know that, and at the same time, I had Henry [Blanco] with the neck problem, and we were trying to milk him through that and not put him on the [disabled list].
"As it was, we ended up with Henry on the DL," Piniella said of Blanco, sidelined with a herniated disk. "At times, I overused Michael. I've said that he took the brunt of some of our losses, and that's not right. This is a team, and you win as a team, and you lose as a team, and you don't point fingers at any one person.
"And, probably a change of scenery will be good for Michael," Piniella said. "I wish him well. He's a good kid."
During a conference call with the media in San Diego, Barrett was asked if he thought he was traded because of the things he did wrong.
"I look at it more what I did right to be a part of this organization [the Padres]," he said. "I'm just going to leave it at that."
Bowen, 26, is another kid in the mix. The Cubs seem to be having a youth movement with the addition of players like Felix Pie, Mike Fontenot, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol.
"What we want to do is win," Piniella said. "This is not a move for the future. This is a move for now and the future."
Buddies: The Cubs didn't lose a catcher, they lost a good friend.
"It's tough," Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said. "You're always going to miss your buddies. We're going to miss him. He was a great guy and one of the best teammates you could have. Hopefully it goes well. There's worse places to go than San Diego -- they're playing good baseball. Michael will help them a lot."
Fans hoping to collect a Barrett bobblehead on July 1, or a Barrett home jersey on Tuesday will be able to do so. The Cubs are not changing the promotions.
Catcher Koyie Hill could've celebrated the move, because it might lead to more playing time.
"Honestly, I was sad," Hill said. "He's a great friend of mine. To be honest with you, it feels a little emptier in here today. That speaks volumes for him and his personality. There's a bunch of guys on this team who lost their best friend."
Everyone wished Barrett well, hoping the deal works out for both teams.
"He was a great teammate," Koyie Hill said. "[The first day in Chicago] I get out of the cab at Wrigley and he gives me a big ol' hug. You play the same position and there's always a little bit, not animosity, but, 'Hey, this is my territory.' He was never like that."
Hill wasn't sure whether his playing time would increase or not. He will be matched up with Zambrano on Friday in the first game of the Cubs' Interleague series against the White Sox.
"My stance has always been if they put me in the lineup and if they tell me to go, I go," he said. "I'll play the same way if I'm starting or backing up."
Lee said he hoped Barrett could finally be out of the media spotlight and get a fresh start in San Diego.
"He had a rough stretch there, but this guy is one of the best offensive catchers in the game," Lee said. "His defense is getting better. He's not one of the best defensively, but he's good defensively. He just had a rough stretch there -- [the criticism] was all unfair. That's the nature of this game.
"I saw the [trade news] on the ticker today and I was very surprised," Lee said. "I didn't see this coming."
Extra bases: Lee will likely be the designated hitter on Thursday with Daryle Ward at first base. ... Fontenot batted fifth for the first time on Wednesday. "I'm going to wear my big shoes tonight," Fontenot said. ... Aramis Ramirez (left knee) has passed all the tests so far, and took batting practice on Wednesday. He's eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Friday. ... Looking ahead to the Cubs' Interleague series against the crosstown White Sox, the pitching matchups will be Zambrano vs. Mark Buehrle on Friday; Rich Hill vs. Javier Vazquez on Saturday; and Sean Marshall against Jose Contreras on Sunday.
Minor matters: The Easten Division All-Stars beat the West, 8-2, in the 43rd Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday. Class A Peoria's reps did participate. Jake Renshaw pitched one-third of an inning and gave up one run on one hit. Alex Maestri gave up one run on four hits and struck out one. ... Jonathan Wyatt hit a three-run homer in Class A Boise's 5-4 loss to Salem-Keizer in the season opener. ... The Iowa Cubs had Tuesday off. ... Double-A Tennessee's game against Huntsville was postponed because of inclement weather. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Thursday. ... Class A Daytona's game against Palm Beach was postponed because of rain, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader Wednesday.
Tyler Colvin and pitcher Jim Henderson were promoted to Tennessee, while outfielder Josh Kroeger and left-hander Geoff Jones were moved up to Triple-A Iowa.
On deck: Left-hander Ted Lilly will close the Cubs' Interleague series against Vicente Padilla and the Rangers on Thursday. Lilly is 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA in his career against the Rangers. His last start against them was July 17, 2006, when he picked up the win. It'll be a hot one -- first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.