Darwin Barney began the season on the disabled list after slicing open his knee chasing a foul ball in the final spring training game, but the Cubs second baseman is almost ready to make his 2013 debut.
Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago reports that Barney will get the stitches removed Friday and then begin a minor-league rehab assignment over the weekend, setting him up to come off the disabled list Tuesday against the Rangers.
Brent Lillibridge and Alberto Gonzalez have split time evenly at second base in place of Barney, who won a Gold Glove last season while hitting .254 with seven homers and a .653 OPS in 156 games.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.