Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria spoke with the media to put a little more color on Starlin Castro’s hamstring injury, and his timeline for return. You can see RR’s comments here, here, and here, among other places.
The gist: Castro’s injury is not as serious as the hamstring issue in Spring Training last year (which actually wasn’t all that serious either, in the end). That one cost Castro about two weeks, and this one will keep the Cubs’ shortstop out for seven to ten days. No one is worried about Castro for Opening Day right now.
In the interim, RR expects to fill in at short primarily with Darwin Barney, Emilio Bonifacio, Arismendy Alcantara, and Javier Baez (though he would only see a slight uptick in his time there, since he was already getting occasional starts). Assuming he makes the team, were there a long-term injury to Castro in the early part of the season, Bonifacio is the guy you’d expect to see most of the starts, given that he was picked up for his versatility, and offers some potential offensive upside.
That Barney could see some starts at shortstop is interesting, then, given that he has been the Cubs’ primary second baseman for three years now. We know that Barney can play shortstop – that was his natural position coming up, and he says he still takes grounders there every day. Obviously we’ve discussed Barney’s future with the Cubs at some length, be it in terms of the coming glut of infield talent or the arrival of Bonifacio.
It’s possible that the Castro injury will give the Cubs an opportunity to show Barney off at shortstop a bit, where, if a plus defender, he would have meaningful value to a number of other teams in baseball, whether as a starter or a utility piece. There have been Barney rumors throughout the offseason, even as recently as last week. (Indeed, just this morning, Bruce Levine told Mully and Hanley that the Mets are looking at Barney as a possible shortstop, and have been considering it for a while now.)
There’s only so much you could show in Spring Training, and this isn’t a long-term thing, in any event. But still, it’s interesting to hear that Barney could be shifted over, despite there being plenty of other options to handle the position in the Spring (and in the regular season, too, what with Bonifacio and Donnie Murphy, for example).