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BY KERRY EGGERS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Veteran infielder back home, but open to MLB spot or offer from Asia

Darwin Barney's professional baseball career is over — probably.

The former Southridge High and Oregon State standout is at home in Lake Oswego with wife Lindsay and their three daughters, ages 9, 6 and 3, after being released by the Texas Rangers on March 19.

The veteran middle infielder had asked for his release, though he was hitting .300 with a double and triple in 30 spring-training at-bats. The Rangers also had Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar at second base.BARNEY

"You could tell the way it was going," says Barney, 32. "I was having a good camp, but it seemed like I wasn't in their plan. I wanted to know where I stood. I spoke to (team officials), and they were honest. I told them I didn't want to sit around and root for somebody to get hurt. I wanted to move on."

Barney's agent sent out feelers throughout the major leagues, and there were "numerous offers to go to Triple-A," Barney said.

"It's just not the right time for that," he said. "If my kids were younger, I'd do that. I love baseball, but I love my kids more. People ask, 'Why not go to Triple A?' If my oldest were 3, that would be a no-brainer. But at this point in their lives, I want to be around. I haven't seen a softball game yet. I haven't seen so many things they're doing with their lives."

So is Barney retired?

"Not officially yet," he said. "Most likely, but there is still a chance one of the Asian teams reaches out, or if someone (in the major leagues) has a big injury. That's what we're waiting on."

An offer from an Asian pro team, which starts its season later, "is a big maybe," Barney said. "That would be a lot of travel away from the kids again, but it wouldn't be for minor-league money."

The irony of it is, the 5-10, 180-pound Barney is healthy and doing well.

"I was hitting and playing good defensively," he said. "The last month or two last season (with Toronto), I figured out some stuff with my swing. Coming into camp, I felt better than I have the past four years. That's the hard part — knowing I can still go out there and do it.

"The easy part is waking up to three little ones in my face. I've given a lot of my life to this game. I'm willing to give more at the big-league level, but other than that, I'm ready to turn the corner."

The highlight of his eight-year major-league career came in 2012, when Barney — who had played shortstop at Southridge and at OSU — earned a Gold Glove at second base for the Chicago Cubs and tied the longest single-season errorless streak in major league history of 141 games.

"All the work I'd put into transitioning into second base paid off," Barney said. "That bought me more time in the big leagues, too, when my bat was struggling."

Barney started for 3 1/2 seasons with the Cubs, hitting a career-high .276 while finishing seventh in Rookie of the Year voting in 2011. He made the final out that clinched a playoff berth for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 and was a part-time starter with Toronto the past two seasons, getting several starts with the Blue Jays in the AL division and championship series in 2016.

"Playing in Toronto was one of the most memorable times I had," Barney said. "You have a whole country behind you. You're playing in front of a packed house (at Rogers Centre) every night, and in the AL East, which is unique. With the power pitching and power bats in that division, it's a different brand of baseball. Those teams just keep building every year. That was fun for me to get to experience.

"In 2016, I got to start at shortstop for about a month and a half solid, which was great. There is no better place to play than shortstop. It's the easiest and best place to play every day, but it's the hardest place to play every once in a while. It's such a rhythm position."

Barney hit two home runs at Fenway Park.

"I grew up a Red Sox fan," he said. "That was always my favorite place to play, so that was a thrill."

Barney is staying in baseball shape, just in case. Meanwhile, he is working on a golf game that remained dormant for a decade. He is a member of Tualatin Country Club and has his handicap inching toward zero.

"Getting from the mid-70s to the next level is the hardest thing to do in golf," he said. "I'm going to try to get there."

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@kerryeggers

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