9/14/2013 7:46 P.M. ET
Cubs' infield saving plenty of runs this season
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs' Darwin Barney leads all National League second basemen in fielding percentage entering Saturday, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo is first in several defensive stats as well. Both are in contention for Gold Glove Awards.
"You've got three guys really -- [catcher Welington Castillo], [Rizzo] and Barney," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "You put all our third basemen together and they've done a good job, too."
Donnie Murphy is one of the six players who have started at third this year for the Cubs. He's been impressed by the infield defense.
"The main thing I see [with Barney] is he makes every play," Murphy said Saturday. "There are a lot of flashy guys out there who make ridiculous plays but there are balls they don't get to, and everybody sees the flash and not the overall picture.
"Every ball that's hit to [Barney], he gets it," Murphy said. "He may not make the incredible plays you see on 'SportsCenter' and all that, but to me, that doesn't really matter. As long as you have the fundamentals and make the plays, that's what matters."
What about Rizzo?
"He covers a lot of ground and has a really good glove," Murphy said of the first baseman. "It feels like he scoops everything. I was surprised at how well he was with the glove."
For the stats-minded fans, Rizzo leads all Major League first basemen in defensive WAR (0.6) and leads all NL first basemen with an .899 ultimate zone rating. He's second in the NL with a .996 fielding percentage this season.
Barney, who won his first Gold Glove Award last season, leads all Major League second basemen in defensive WAR (1.4) and has made four errors this season. His .993 fielding percentage is the best in the NL. He began the season with a 71-game errorless streak and takes an active 39-game errorless streak into Saturday's game.
Shortstop Starlin Castro does lead NL shortstops in errors, but he has made just four in his last 70 games starting June 26. He has an .879 ultimate zone rating during that span, second best among NL shortstops.
"They've saved a lot of runs and done a lot of good things over there," Sveum said of his infield.
Murphy has adjusted to Cubs' use of shifts
PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs rank among the top five teams in the Major Leagues in terms of using defensive shifts, and some of the maneuverings were a little strange in the beginning for third baseman Donnie Murphy.
"I've done a lot of shifting before, but I feel like we over-shift a lot here," Murphy said. "It was new at first, but I'm used to it now."
Against the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez, the Cubs have their third baseman move between the second baseman and shortstop.
"That was different," Murphy said. "You think, 'If the ball is hit in the gap, do I sprint to third base?' Once you do it a couple times, it's not new anymore."
What helps Murphy adjust is that he can also play second base.
"It's harder to sell to guys who come over and weren't here in Spring Training when you were introducing it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Murphy is willing to learn.
"I take a lot of pride in defense," he said. "Not everybody can do it, but as long as you're fundamentally sound, it can get you a long way in this game."
• Daniel Bard, claimed off waivers from the Red Sox, is continuing to throw bullpen sessions with pitching coach Chris Bosio and may not get in a game. The right-hander was sidelined most of the season with a strained abdominal muscle.
"I don't see [getting him a game] being an issue or priority," Sveum said. "It's just a matter of getting him some bullpens and comfortable. There's no timetable."
• Junior Lake has three hitting streaks of at least seven games in his first 50 games in the Major Leagues, but he did not start on Friday or Saturday. Sveum said the matchups were better for Lake against the pitchers coming up in the Cubs' series against the Brewers, which starts Monday.
"We'll try to put everybody in situations where they can succeed right now," Sveum said.
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.