2/27/2013 8:28 P.M. ET
Prankster makes sure to give Barney his space
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- Darwin Barney's locker area is defined by a white-tape outline on the carpet in the HoHoKam Stadium clubhouse. Apparently, Barney needs his space.
"I came out of the game [Tuesday] and this was there," Barney said Wednesday. "I can live with it. I was thinking about maybe putting up boundaries for everybody."
There's no doubting whose territory it is. Someone wrote, "Private, stay out, Barney's area," and added, "P.S. I won a Gold Glove." However, there is a typo on "area."
Does the second baseman know who did it?
"It looks like Otis' handwriting, so that might be my guess," Barney said of clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann. "Plus, he's not a great speller. Come on, I went to Oregon State."
Wait a minute -- isn't the team supposed to try to be more of a sharing and caring group?
"I allow people in, like you guys [the media] aren't allowed, but teammates are definitely welcome," Barney said, smiling.
Castro day to day after exiting with tight hamstring
MESA, Ariz. -- Starlin Castro wanted three at-bats on Wednesday, but the Cubs shortstop nearly regretted his last one.
Castro had to leave the game after his third at-bat in the fourth inning because of tightness in his left hamstring. He was listed in Thursday's lineup but most likely will not play. His status was day to day.
"I told [Cubs manager Dale Sveum], I told everybody in practice I wanted three at-bats today," Castro said. "It's nothing bad. Next time, two."
In the fourth, Castro hit a ball to Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon, who made a great stop but then overthrew first for an error. Castro pulled up as he ran down the line.
"When I was close to first base, I felt it [in my hamstring] when I touched the base," Castro said.
Was he scared?
"Yeah," he said. "I don't want to be hurt, man. I feel too good this year to start the season hurt. The trainers took care of me. I think it's not bad."
If Castro was scared, imagine Sveum's first reaction when his two-time All-Star shortstop looks lame.
"Not good," Sveum said. "It's not a good thought because it was kind of like he pulled up quite a bit. I didn't know if it was a knee. Most guys, they grab [the hamstring]. He was just kind of hobbling. Thank God, it doesn't seem to be a big deal at all."
The Cubs are already thin with third basemen Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters both sidelined with left quad strains. Castro said he's never had a hamstring problem like this before.
"I don't know what happened," he said. "I worked too much in the Dominican, running a lot. Hopefully, it'll be good."
"It was tight and he was jogging around in the trainer's room after he got worked on a little bit," Sveum said. "It was more tight than a pull or anything like that, so he's just day to day. Thank God, nothing real major at all."
Last year, Castro played in all 162 games. That's his goal again this year.
"That's why I say, I don't want to be hurt because this year I feel really, really good," Castro said. "I feel ready to do something good for this team this year and that's why I don't want to be hurt."
"He's one of those resilient kids who loves to play the game," Sveum said.
Sveum prepared if Cubs deal again at Deadline
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs were active at last year's Trade Deadline, dealing Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Geovany Soto and Reed Johnson. The emphasis was on the future, especially because the team was 43-59 on July 31.
Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, said they may do the same this year if they struggle. Cubs manager Dale Sveum is prepared.
"That's part of the business," Sveum said. "If your team is out of it, to start building and getting a healthier organization, unfortunately or fortunately, that's part of the business. Hopefully, we don't have to worry about that. Hopefully, we're buying people."
Preseason publications have not been high on the Cubs' potential for 2013. Both Epstein and Sveum feel there's more talent in camp than they get credit for.
"There's a tremendous amount of more talent in this camp than there was a year ago," Sveum said. "We're older, we have depth. We have a lineup that can keep the line moving as well as hit home runs and have slugging percentage. Maybe we don't have three or four guys in the lineup who have the chance of hitting 30 or 40 home runs like some teams do, but we have put together an offense if guys get better."
Sveum likes the addition of Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston plus non-roster invitees Dave Sappelt and Darnell McDonald.
"If guys live up to their capabilities, it's a pretty functional offense," Sveum said.
Third baseman Ian Stewart, sidelined since last Thursday with a mild quad strain, was able to take part in the Cubs' bunting tournament on Wednesday but lost to Anthony Rizzo, who advanced to the sweet 16 round.
Stewart is spending most of his time rehabbing with Josh Vitters, who also injured his left quad on the same day. The two have been able to do agility work.
"Me and Ian are basically doing the same routine," Vitters said Wednesday. "We push each other."
Others to advance in the bunting tournament include Logan Watkins, Chris Rusin and strength coach Tim Buss, who beat pitcher Scott Baker.
• Matt Garza could resume throwing on Thursday. The pitcher, who has been shut down since Feb. 17 because of a strained left lat, passed all his tests on Wednesday.
"He did really well today and everything went great," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said after Wednesday's game. "As long as he comes in [Thursday] feeling pretty good, there will be a really good chance he'll start light tossing."
The Cubs want to make sure the throwing motion doesn't aggravate Garza's side before having him throw off the mound.
• Luis Valbuena led off on Wednesday, and could be an option during the season against left-handers. David DeJesus will be the main leadoff man, but Valbuena has impressed Sveum.
"[He's a possibility] because he gives you great at-bats, he sees a lot of pitches, he can score first with a home run once in a while, he drives the ball," Sveum said of Valbuena. "He's got all the things you want in a leadoff hitter."
• One of the Cubs' highlights in Wednesday's 11-7 loss to the Dodgers came in the eighth when top prospect Javier Baez knocked down shortstop Dee Gordon with a line-drive leadoff single.
"I think I've seen balls hit as hard, but I don't think I've ever seen a ball hit harder," Sveum said. "That was like balls that [Gary] Sheffield used to hit."
"You don't teach the kind of bat speed Baez has," Sveum said. "That's special and comes around once in a while."
Baez, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, didn't say anything to Gordon about the rocket.
"It felt pretty good," Baez said. "If you hit a ball like that all the time, you're going to be great, you're going to feel great. You just have to get on base no matter how."
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.