Winning is Habitual for Barney

DAYTONA BEACH — Cubs prospect and Class-A Daytona shortstop Darwin Barney recently collected a season-high three hits and smashed his second home run of the year in a game against the Clearwater Thrashers. But those who know Barney, the Cubs' fourth-round selection in the 2007 draft, know that he probably didn't go home and celebrate.

The Cubs dropped the game, 5-1, and Barney's line drive homer was the only offensive highlight for a team that dropped its second consecutive game after a five-game winning streak.

Barney, who won two College World Series championships at Oregon State, has been playing baseball long enough to understand the ebbs and flows of offensive production.

"You do not want to change your attitude day to day," Barney said. "You want to go home and have the same feelings every night. If you figure out how to do that, baseball can become something you do every day."

Barney's level-headed approach is serving him well in his second season of professional baseball. Though he's second on the club with 20 RBI, he's hitting .265 – a number far below the averages he posted in college.

But Barney is playing well enough – especially on defense – to impress the guys he needs to impress within the organization.

"He's just real consistent defensively," Cubs manager Jody Davis said. "That's what you have to do to play middle infield. It's an adjustment coming from using an aluminum bat to a wood bat. He's pulled it together and he works hard, obviously."

Barney joined the Daytona team after playing in Mesa at the Arizona Rookie League and Class-A Peoria in 2007. He was coveted by the organization not only for his skills, but his history of helping to turn his teams into winners.

In Little League ball at Murrayhill, Ore., Southridge High School in Beaverton and Oregon State in Corvallis, Barney won everything from district titles to state and back-to-back national championships.

He enjoyed instant success last season at Mesa, where he hit .444 in five games before being promoted to Peoria.

Davis said he initially found his shortstop a bit cocky, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

"I think you have to be a little cocky to play this game," Davis said. "We kind of kidded him a little bit early… we called him ‘yeah, but' because everything we wanted to teach him, and everything we wanted to show him to do, he'd be going, ‘yeah, but I did it this way in college' and ‘yeah, but…' so we had a little fun with him there.

"He's a gamer and he comes to play everyday and brings that attitude to the whole ball club. I like his approach to the game, and you can just tell he's been in that winning atmosphere."

Barney says he takes winning just as seriously now, despite the emphasis in the minor leagues on individual player development. He said players on winning teams raise their profiles.

"You know, this team doesn't like to lose, we're not OK with it," Barney said. "Pro ball, you think it's pretty laid back and you play 140 games every year in the minor leagues.

"But that's just how it looks from the stands. When we're in there, we're trying to make a career and to come together and win as a team. Winning and losing becomes habitual."


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