Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney was named the National League Rookie of the Month for April, a month that saw the 25-year-old hit .326 with one home run and 14 RBIs, second among Major League rookies. He also posted four doubles, two triples and scored 15 runs with a .351 on-base percentage. A former Oregon State Beaver selected by the Cubs in the fourth round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Barney recently answered questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
05/05/2011 11:44 AM ET
Darwin Barney earns monthly honors
Second baseman named NL Rookie of the Month in April
By Jeff Moeller / MLBPLAYERS.com
MLBPLAYERS.com: How does it feel to be named the National League Rookie of the Month?
Darwin Barney: I am happy to be contributing. It's a great honor. It wasn't anything I expected. There were a lot of good candidates out there. A lot of pitchers threw well, and a lot of position players played well. I am excited about it and happy about it, but it doesn't change the goal here. We are trying to produce some more wins.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What did you do when you heard the news?
Barney: I smiled. I walked in, and they showed me the email. That is how it happened. We had early hitting, so my excitement was short-lived. It's fun, but it is time to move forward and to get on to the next game.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You made your big league debut last year and played in 30 games. How did that help your development and how did it help you prepare for this year?
Barney: It was huge. It opened up my eyes to the speed of the game. It gave me a taste of what pitchers are going to try and do to me, their patterns. What it really showed me was the difference in the game in terms of the talent level. It is an everyday struggle here. Every team comes in believing that they have a chance this year just like we do. It is tough because there are 30 teams and only one happy team at the end of the year. It is real up here. It is about winning and being competitive. There are no days off, no pitches off. You have to always be ready.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What do you think has changed the most for you since Spring Training when you made this team and earned the second-base job?
Barney: I think what has changed the most for me is that my wife is pregnant and we are expecting our second child now. She is due in September. On the field, it is all the same. Accolades and stuff like that are great, but I feel very fortunate and happy to be playing second base for the Cubs. Coming into spring I didn't know if that would happen. I am fortunate and I am happy, but I am trying to keep my routine the same. I am trying to be a good person and trying to be a good teammate. It is about having good relationships, and going out there and playing hard everyday.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You are listed on the Cubs website as a shortstop. Can you talk about where you can play in the field?
Barney: If they ask me to play center field, I will go out there and work at it and play center field. I will do what helps this team. Going back to the offseason, I put a lot of work in at second base. I saw an opportunity that I could play this year at second. I came up as a shortstop and that is my natural position. I'm an infielder, and last year I played second, short and third. If they ask me to play third tomorrow, I will do it. I am about going out there, getting the job done and helping the team win.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Your teammate, shortstop Starlin Castro, is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Can you talk about playing alongside him?
Barney: He is fun to play next to. He is so athletic, and he can do a lot of things. We play a similar game defensively. We both have range, and we love playing together. Seeing him on the cover is pretty awesome. It is cool, and I am happy for him. He is very deserving. The guy has worked really hard. His growth is unbelievable as I think back to where I was at when I was 21. I was questioning myself back then and still trying to learn who I was as a player. It is probably not the last time he will be on the cover of a magazine.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You seem the least surprised that you are able to succeed at this level. Do you always have that much confidence?
Barney: You have to. In the Minor Leagues, you feel so far away from the big leagues. You go 3-for-4 one night and you feel like you are close, but you almost have to trick yourself into believing that you can do it. The work I put in during the offseason really helped prepare me for the grind of the big leagues. It is stressful and it is tough because you have competing with and against the best players in the world. I'm just trying to take it one day at a game. Just compete and work hard, and that is all you can do.
MLBPLAYERS.com: A few years ago, you garnered experience with Team USA. What do you take away from those days?
Barney: A lot of things. First and foremost, about 95 percent of the guys from '06 are in the big leagues right now. It was, at the time, one of the best teams I ever played on, when it comes to pure talent. At that level, our team was unbelievable. I don't think we lost a game.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What was the most unique part?
Barney: Going to Cuba. As an American, that opportunity isn't really there. It was a great experience. Spending 16 days there was a real eye-opener. It shows you how lucky and fortunate we are to be in this country.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You were born in Oregon, but what is your ethnicity?
Barney: There is some stuff out there that I have read that is wrong. I am one-quarter Korean and one-quarter Japanese. The other half is American-Hawaiian. My grandmother is full Korean, and my grandfather is full Japanese.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.