08/26/12 4:14 PM ET
Barney hits batting cages on his down time
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"[Rowson] said, 'I figured I'd put my tennis shoes on, and figured you'd want to go hit,'" Barney said Sunday, relaying the story.
So they did, heading to the cage as crews were busy clearing debris from that day's game and the sprinklers were going on the field. Barney also stopped by Wrigley Field on Thursday's off-day to get some extra swings in.
"He's not feeling very good at the plate," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday of the second baseman, who was batting .258 overall and .205 this month. "He was here on his day off hitting -- I saw him here. He's one of those guys who is a grinder and is doing everything he can to make himself a better player."
Barney has been making contact but is not making excuses.
"You want to use a lot of things as excuses for slumps but the bottom line is they happen and the last two or three days, he's lined out about four times to the center fielder and hit the ball hard," Sveum said. "You can look too far into some things and get a little confused about slumps and pitch selection and when to be aggressive and when not to be, too. Sometimes it's not just mechanical."
Barney has noticed some bad trends.
"I didn't get [to the big leagues] by pulling the ball," Barney said. "I didn't get here having my contact point out front. I got here by letting the ball get deep and stuff like that. We're working at getting better at being me and getting back to that and getting back to that approach."
The ironman second baseman, who was expected to get a day off at some point during the Cubs' current 20-game stretch, does have the potential to be a .300 hitter, Sveum said. He hit .276 last year.
"I think he can be, and I think he knows some of the adjustments he has to make to get some things working on the back side so it's not such a dead back side to where he can get some length through the strike zone with his bat," Sveum said. "The hand-eye coordination, the strength, the hand speed, it all should play into a .290, .310 hitter someday."
OK, so what was Barney doing in the cage on his day off?
"I had nothing else to do," Barney said Sunday. "It was about 3 in the afternoon, and I was like, 'I can sit here all day or I can get something done.' I decided to go over there and work a little bit in the cage. That's why we're here. You don't get too many opportunities and before you know it, it'll be over. I thought, why not go get something done?"
Lefty duo adjusting to first action vs. MLB hitters
CHICAGO -- There should be some good competition next spring for spots in the Cubs rotation, and left-handers Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin both figure to be battling for a spot.
Both made their big league debuts this season, and while Raley is still in the rotation, Rusin was expected to return on Sept. 1 when rosters expand.
"They've gotten put in a situation where they had to come up here and perform and they've done a nice job," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the pair. "The bottom line with guys like that is they have to learn to get through a lineup the second time a team faces them and to make the adjustments after Major League hitters have seen you one time.
"They've done a good job," Sveum said. "They're poised and their mound presence has been good. They haven't been like a deer in the headlights by no means, and they've done a good job on the mound."
Rusin started for Triple-A Iowa on Sunday and struck out seven over seven innings, giving up three runs on four hits. Raley (1-2, 6.64 ERA) will make his fifth big league start Thursday against the Brewers.
Class A Boise reached the playoffs for the second straight season with an 8-6 win Saturday over Vancouver, clinching the second-half title in the Northwest League's East Division. Boise will face Yakima, the division's first-half winner, in the first game of the playoffs on Sept. 3.
Jeimer Candelario had three hits and three RBIs in Saturday's win and Wilson Contreras drove in two runs.
Boise plays Vancouver on Sunday before closing the regular season with a five-game homestand against Everett that begins Tuesday.
Reliever Shawn Camp leads the Majors with 64 games pitched this season and is on pace for 83 relief appearances, a number that would top his career-high 75 relief outings for the Rays in 2006. That would be one game shy of the Cubs franchise record of 84 games pitched, done by Ted Abernathy (1965), Dick Tidrow (1980) and Bob Howry (2006).
Catcher Blake Lalli cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Iowa on Saturday. Infielder Nate Samson was placed on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain, retroactive to Aug. 24, to make room. Lalli was designated for assignment on Thursday. He was hitting .257 in 91 games.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.