09/29/12 2:40 AM ET
Rizzo putting finishing touches on great rookie year
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"He's got the ability and intangibles to be a leader," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Rizzo, promoted to the big leagues on June 26. "One, he's an everyday player. [Two], he's young, and he'll be here awhile and has the ability to have 30-plus home runs and drive in runs.
"He's got the makeup to be a leader," Sveum said. "He's already shown some of those traits in the dugout and the clubhouse."
Rizzo's defensive work also is appreciated. On Friday, he was the beneficiary of a new designer backpack, a gift from Darwin Barney for saving a throw on a play during the Cubs last series in Chicago, which helped the second baseman keep his errorless streak alive.
Barney's miscue ends 141-game errorless streak
PHOENIX -- There's no doubt who Cubs manager Dale Sveum thinks should win the National League Gold Glove at second base.
"It goes without saying he's Gold Glove material," Sveum said of the Cubs' Darwin Barney.
Barney entered Friday's game tied with Placido Polanco for the single-season record for consecutive errorless games at second base, both at 141. But in the eighth inning, Barney fielded Justin Upton's grounder and tried to make an off-balance throw to first. The throw was off the mark, and Barney was charged with an error, his first since April 17.
"I've been in the game 30 years, and I've never seen anyone play second base like [Barney] has," Sveum said. "I was very fortunate to be around who I consider the best I'd ever seen at that position in Jimmy Gantner in Milwaukee. He was another guy who was under the radar because of his offense.
"I think Barney is better than that," Sveum said. "He puts everything into the package, going for pop-ups down the right-field line, double plays, the range -- he has so many different things in his toolbox. It's not just a guy catching the ball, routine balls. He's been spectacular all season."
Barney was rewriting the National League record each game as he surpassed the old mark of 123 games, held by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who was Barney's former Minor League manager.
Cubs infield coach Pat Listach said Barney hasn't let up on his desire to be the best at his position.
"It's his work ethic and desire to be the best -- that's what we talk every day about," Listach said. "This is a good day for him to be over with it. It's on his mind. He's having fun out there."
Anyone who has seen Barney knows he has no fear when it comes to going after balls, especially pop-ups.
"He's a true gamer when it comes to that," Listach said. "He wants to make every play, and he's not afraid to make plays. You want that at every position."
Not to take anything away from what Barney has accomplished, but it's helped having Listach go over spray charts of the opponent each day.
"He keeps an eye on me every batter, every pitch," Listach said. "I watch the video, and will show all the infielders where I want them to play. He's watching me every pitch. I told him, 'If you have a gut feeling about it, you stay where you are.'"
Brandon Phillips is the defending Gold Glove second baseman in the NL, and when he and the Reds were in Wrigley Field Sept. 18-20, he was asked about Barney. Phillips expects to repeat as the Gold Glove winner.
"I feel like I should," Phillips said. "I feel the Gold Glove is mine to stay until somebody beats me to it."
Listach saw Phillips' comments.
"In response to what Brandon said, he said someone has to take it from me. Barney just did it," Listach said. "He just took it from him. He outplayed him in 160 something games. He outplayed him."
• Justin Germano will make his final start of the season on Saturday when the Cubs face the D-backs in the second game of the series. After that, he could be headed home to be with his wife, Logan, who is expecting the couple's second child on Monday.
When Germano isn't pitching, he is able to duck into the clubhouse to check his phone and make sure everything is OK at home. He wasn't sure what he would do on Saturday, except focus on finishing the season on a good note.
"I'm the same as everyone else, and just want to finish strong," he said.
• According to the Arizona Republic, Mesa officials are involved in talks between Arizona State and the Cubs regarding how to let the university's baseball team use the new Spring Training stadium. The Mesa city council met on Thursday to discuss the ASU-Cubs negotiations, as well as a pending agreement for the Athletics to use HoHoKam Stadium, beginning in 2015. In June, ASU president Michael Crow criticized the Cubs in an e-mail to Mesa mayor Scott Smith, accusing the team of reneging on terms that the school thought had already been agreed to.
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.