Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Barney takes high road after beating Phillips for first Gold Glove

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One of the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable Cubs' season, second baseman Darwin Barney became the club's first Gold Glove winner in five years - beating out three-time winner Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds.

Barney, who tied the major-league record with 141 consecutive errorless games at second this season, is the first Cub to win the prestigious fielding award since first-baseman Derrek Lee in 2007, in voting of managers and coaches announced Tuesday night.

``It's something you came into the season working towards, but it's not something that I thought the results would be there as quickly as they were,'' Barney said. ``I'm extremely happy about it. ... I'm really surprised it ended up happening for me. So it's an exciting night for me.''

Barney, whose record streak ended on a throwing error Sept. 28, was one of three National League finalists at second this year, joining Phillips and Aaron Hill of Arizona.

ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk called Barney's selection over Phillips the ``biggest upset'' in the voting - this barely a month after Phillips told reporters at Wrigley Field that ``everybody knows that I'm the best defensive second baseman.''

Barney didn't gloat.

``He's exceptional at what he does. He was the best in the game for a long time,'' Barney said. ``I can't sit here and say that I'm better than him or anything like that. I had a good season, and I think either one of us could win it. Fortunately, I did.''

Barney had a .997 fielding percentage and committed only two errors at second (three overall including one game at shortstop). He performed even stronger in newer metrics such as defensive runs saved - leading the majors at all positions in that category with 28.

Noted sabermetrician and analyst/author Rob Neyer on Tuesday night wrote: ``Kudos to the voters for recognizing a great fielder on a lousy team.''

Barney is the fourth Cubs second baseman to win the award, first since 1991, when his minor-league manager and mentor, nine-time winner Ryne Sandberg, won it.

Barney said Sandberg contacted him after Barney broke Sandberg's National League errorless-streak record at second.

``He told me how proud he was and he wouldn't have anyone but me to do that,'' Barney said.

Cubs' second basemen Ken Hubbs (1962) and Glenn Beckert (1968) also won Gold Gloves.

``You kind of hope it's not the last. You hope it's the first of some, or many,'' Barney said. ``But I'm going to enjoy this because you never know if it's going to happen again.''

First-year Cubs manager Dale Sveum talked much of the season about Barney as a core player for the Cubs as they rebuild, and team president Theo Epstein last week also mentioned Barney in that context.

``With what he did defensively, now it's just a [matter] of small continued progress offensively,'' Epstein said. ``If he gets on base a little bit more - and you look at what he does defensively, and with his intangibles, he can be a guy.''

NOTE - Derek Johnson, 41, pitching coach and assistant head coach of the pitching-rich Vanderbilt University program the last 11 seasons, is the Cubs' new minor-league pitching coordinator, the Cubs announced Tuesday. Vanderbilt had six pitchers drafted in the first round under Johnson, including Tampa Bay's No. 1 overall David Price in 2007.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on October 30, 2012 9:37 PM.

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