"It's just confidence as much as anything," manager Dale Sveum said before Wednesday's game with the St. Louis Cardinals. "It's just understanding your job is to hit the ball hard and not try and do something with it every at-bat. Just get a good pitch and hit it hard instead of trying to hit it to this field or that field. Have one mindset and that's hit the ball as hard as you can."
Sveum worked with Barney before regular batting practice for the team on Wednesday morning.
"It was nice to just bring him out today and just let him hit and not think about any mechanics," Sveum said.
Barney is a Gold Glove winner and hoped to raise his batting average and on-base percentage after a mediocre 2012 season at the plate. He worked with Sveum in the winter on some mechanical adjustments but so far they haven't paid off.
The 27-year-old is considered on the fence when it comes to the core of the Cubs moving forward. He's great in the field but needs to do more at the plate. The organization values on-base percentage and Barney's career high, achieved in 2011, is just .313. He gets on base 27 percent of the time and that's not nearly good enough. Barney does see a good amount of pitches -- another thing the Cubs like -- averaging 4.17 per plate appearance, that's near the most among Cubs.
Meanwhile in the minors, 2008 draft pick Logan Watkins continues to impress with his ability to reach base. Moving up to Triple-A Iowa this year, his on-base percentage is .409 even though he's hitting just .257. That's the kind of contribution a team will accept from a deft fielder but light hitter. Barney still needs to prove he's one of those guys.