5/22/2013 7:49 P.M. ET
Barney hitting harder following midnight chat with Sveum
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Darwin Barney matched his career high with four hits Tuesday, and he was batting .440 in his last seven games. The difference may have been a talk with Cubs manager Dale Sveum that lasted well into the early morning.
Barney went to Sveum's apartment after the May 7 night game against the Cardinals.
"We ended up talking about hitting and approach," Barney said, "and what good hitters do and what makes a good hitter and where in my career did I think that I had to be one dimensional and that I had to hit the ball the other way and take the inside pitch the other way.
"It was just one of those nights where we talked about a lot of baseball stuff, and not necessarily me the whole time, but the game and what it takes to be successful and where I could be," Barney said. "With the defense I bring, there's a chance of being a different kind of player, a game-changing player. We ended up talking until 2:30, 3 o'clock."
The next day, with little sleep, Sveum and Barney were on the field before the Cubs' day game, and the manager was throwing batting practice to the second baseman. The emphasis was on hitting the ball as hard as he could, not worrying about where it went.
"It felt like Little League again," Barney said. "You're just out there and not thinking about your mechanics and just trying to drive the ball, and that was the start of changing my approach and thoughts. It took something like that to get me off of it. I always went back to the success I had in the past, hitting the ball the other way, whenever I would struggle."
Sveum has seen a change.
"Some of the adjustments he's made have obviously been paying off with his mindset and aggressiveness," Sveum said. "That's all you ask for is understand what hitting is really all about, and your job is to hit the ball hard and not care where the ball goes. Your job is to use the whole field and not try to use one piece of it."
Tuesday was one of those good days for Barney, who scuffled through an 0-for-24 stretch earlier this month.
"I hit the ball hard, and that's the goal, where in the past, the balls I've hit on the ground, pull side, and haven't been hit very hard," Barney said. "The bright side is I'm hitting the ball hard on the ground, and that'll lead to line drives. ... For the time being, I'm pretty happy with the adjustments I've made, and hopefully we can keep building on them."
Cubs place righty Camp on DL, recall Dolis
PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs placed Shawn Camp on the disabled list because of a sprained right big toe on Wednesday, the day after the right-hander served up a winning grand slam to the Pirates. The Cubs recalled right-hander Rafael Dolis.
Camp, 37, had apparently been bothered by his toe for a month but did not tell the team until Sunday. The Cubs hoped Monday's off-day would give Camp time to heal. On Tuesday, he allowed a grand slam to pinch-hitter Travis Snider in the Pirates' 5-4 win over the Cubs.
"I guess it's been bothering him for about a month," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Wednesday. "He had treatment on Sunday to start the process and re-aggravated it, and the inflammation got too bad. I think for a while, it's been too tough to push off the mound. We've got to give it time to settle down."
The right-hander has a 7.56 ERA in 20 games, and in six appearances this month he has given up six runs on 10 hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings.
Camp apparently had the same problem in 2010 and 2011 while with the Blue Jays.
On Sunday, the Cubs designated reliever Michael Bowden for assignment to make room on the 25-man roster for Matt Garza. If they had known how serious Camp's injury was, they could have kept Bowden, who has yet to clear waivers.
"We didn't know it was that extensive," Sveum said of Camp's injury. "We talked [to him] and the arm was fine. ... These guys are competitive, professional athletes who don't like to use excuses, but sometimes it comes back to bite you, too."
The Cubs are not sure how much time Camp will need. He returned home Wednesday to be with his family.
"We've got to get it calmed down and not do anything for a little while and stay off the foot," Sveum said. "The bad thing about toes is you're always using them."
This will be Dolis' third stint with the Cubs. At Iowa, he was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 12 relief appearances.
Cubs' May RBI leader(s): the pitching staff
PITTSBURGH -- It is not a good sign when the players with the most RBIs for the month are a team's pitchers, but that is the case with the Cubs.
Cubs pitchers combined for 13 RBIs in May and were batting .316 (12-for-38) with two home runs for the month entering Wednesday's game against the Pirates. Outfielder Alfonso Soriano had also driven in 13 runs in May with three home runs.
Only Anthony Rizzo and Nate Schierholtz had reached double-digits in RBIs with 10 each for the month.
In 2011, Cubs pitchers collected five RBIs for the season. Last year, they drove in 11. These pitchers take hitting seriously, studying video as much as the hitters do.
Who is the best hitter among the pitchers? Manager Dale Sveum did not hesitate to pick Travis Wood.
"He's the most consistent and always has been," Sveum said of the left-hander, who had three RBIs and hit a home run Sunday. "He's a great athlete. [Jeff] Samardzija is a good athlete, too, but Woody is a little more savvier and faster to be able to use him in situations."
The hitting has not hurt their pitching. Cubs starters have a 2.00 ERA in 27 quality starts, though they have won only 11 of those games.
Matt Garza hit a two-run double Tuesday, and Cubs pitchers drove in two runs in each of the last three games for the first time since June 11-13, 1921, against Boston. According to STATS Inc., pitcher Pete Alexander had two RBIs on June 11, Lefty Tyler and Hippo Vaughn had one RBI apiece on June 12, and Lefty York had two RBIs on June 13.
Garza was 2-for-30 with zero RBIs last season with the Cubs. He is way ahead of last year's pace.
"With these other five, six guys, I was like, 'I can't give this up, [I have to] keep working, keep working,'" Garza said. "There was a lot of time in the cage and lot of time on some programs we have. I want to be a complete player. That's what my job entitles."
The last time Cubs pitchers totaled 13 RBIs in a month was September 1971, when they collected 14. Chicago also is one of two clubs this season with two home runs from its pitchers, joining Milwaukee. The Cubs' pitchers lead Major League pitching staffs with six doubles.
Cubs executives visit potential Draft pick Gray
PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs are finalizing prep work for the First-Year Player Draft, to be held June 6, and Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, led a group of front office executives to Oklahoma to meet Wednesday with right-handed pitcher Jonathan Gray.
The Cubs have the second overall pick in the Draft, and they are expected to take Gray or Stanford right-hander Mark Appel -- whomever the Astros do not select with the No. 1 pick. Last year, Appel rejected a $3.8 million offer by the Pirates, who selected him eighth overall.
Epstein was joined Wednesday in Oklahoma City by general manager Jed Hoyer, scouting and player development director Jason McLeod, and Jaron Madison, director of amateur scouting.
The Cubs have $10.56 million allotted by Major League Baseball for Draft bonuses to their top 10 picks.
A junior at Oklahoma, Gray has a plus-plus fastball and a power slider, and he will throw an occasional curve. He has been drafted twice before; in the 10th round in 2011 by the Yankees, and in the 13th round in 2010 by the Royals.
Appel also has been taken twice before. Besides being the eighth player taken overall last year by the Pirates, he was the Tigers' 15th round selection in 2009.
• Sveum met with the relievers in his office for a few minutes prior to Wednesday's game to go over their roles and clarify that there was no long man.
Carlos Villanueva would seem a logical choice for that role, but Sveum said the right-hander, recently moved from the rotation to the bullpen, was too valuable to be used only in long relief.
Kevin Gregg remains the closer, and he is 6-for-6 in save situations.
• Albert Almora, the Cubs' No. 1 Draft pick last year, joined Class A Kane County and was activated for Wednesday's game at Peoria. Catcher Carlos Escobar was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to Monday.
Almora, rated by MLB.com as the organization's No. 2 prospect, split his first professional season with Mesa in the Rookie League and Class A Boise last season, batting a combined .321 with two home runs and 19 RBIs.
He broke the hamate bone in his left hand in Spring Training and had been rehabbing in Mesa, Ariz.
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.