Backup role, pennant race await former Cubs infielder

Darwin Barney enjoyed the opportunity to spend a little time this past week at his Beaverton home with wife Lindsay and their two young daughters.

"Haven't been home in the summer, when the weather is so nice, since college," Barney said.

The former Beaverton High and Oregon State standout would have preferred, however, that the chance not come up after the Chicago Cubs designated him for assignment, leaving him without a team for nearly a week.

Then on Monday, Barney learned he was being acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chicago will send Barney and cash consideration to the Dodgers for a player to be named later.

Suddenly, Barney went from a team mired in the basement in the National League's Central Division to the team many believe will claim the World Series championship this fall.

"I was excited to hear it was L.A.," the second baseman said Tuesday as he prepared for a Wednesday flight to his new city. "I'm not used to being with a team that is in first place at this time of year. I'm looking forward to it.

"I'll miss Chicago, but it will be nice to be back on the West Coast, closer to home and easier for the family."

Barney, 28, broke in with the Cubs in 2010 and was the team's starting second baseman from 2011-13, winning the 2012 National League Gold Glove award and matching a major league record with 141 straight errorless games. But he has mostly struggled at the plate and is hitting .230 in 72 games this season.

The Cubs deemed him expendable when they brought up rookie Arismendy Alcantara, who will share second base with utility man Emilio Bonifacio.

"It's just part of the game," Barney said of his first trade as a major-leaguer. "I've seen it happen to a lot of friends. It's never easy when something like that happens. But the Cubs had a lot of young guys who had to come up. If they waited around to trade me, it might not have turned out the way it did. You'd like to think things happen for a reason."

Barney is hitting .385 in 39 at-bats in July.

"Things were going better," he said. "I was starting to come around. Hopefully, I can find my groove when I play again with the Dodgers."

Barney hasn't yet spoken with L.A. manager Don Mattingly but said he had a phone conversation with GM Ned Colletti. He figures to back up starting second baseman Dee Gordon and could also be a replacement at third base and shortstop.

"I'll probably play several different positions," Barney said. "They're pretty set right now and playing well. I'm going to try to help them in any way I can."

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