The Cubs aren't playing for anything - unless you count that ``avoid-100-losses thing'' - but at least one interesting subplot is on display this week as the top two second basemen in the National League wage a three-day, head-to-head case for a National League Gold Glove.
Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips is going for his third straight and fourth overall. Barney is going for his first.
For Barney, this matchup may have begun during a brief conversation he and Phillips had during a spring training game in 2011.
Both stood near second base as the inning ended, and Barney said, ``Hey, man, I saw you last year turning some double plays when you were coming back from being hurt. I'm making the move to second base and I don't feel very comfortable turning double plays. What can you tell me?''
Phillips took a few minutes to share his thoughts and offer tips to Barney - who earned the starter's job that spring and this year might unseat Phillips for the top-defender award.
``From then on, I've had a lot of respect for him - not about how he plays the game or anything, but just for who he is, the kind of guy he was to me,'' Barney said. ``Not every guy who's the best in the game defensively is going to stop and talk to a guy that's got a couple months in the big leagues. That meant a lot to me at the time.''
Phillips said he remembered the talk.
``I don't really know how he's been doing,'' he said. ``The only thing I know is I just worry about myself and worry about the team. And whenever a guy wants to know something and they ask me a question about anything, I let them know what I think about it.''
So does Phillips consider Barney a threat to his Gold Glove run?
``To tell you the truth, I don't pay attention to things like that,'' Phillips said. ``I'm too busy winning. That's what I worry about. I just worry about winning, and I let everybody else worry about that kind of stuff.''