The Los Angeles Dodgers' acquisition of veteran infielder Darwin Barney came as somewhat of a surprise. That they then sent him to Albuquerque was equally surprising.
The stated reason is to get Barney some reps at positions other than second base, where he had spent the bulk of his big-league career with the Chicago Cubs. Mainly that has been shortstop, though on Sunday night Barney got the start at third base for the Isotopes.
It was Barney's first appearance at third since 2010 and just the eighth of his entire pro career. Though he did make one fielding error, Barney said he was able to get comfortable there after a while.
"In 2010 I played a few games over there (with the Cubs)," Barney said. "When I first got called up there was a guy that hurt his heel so I got a few starts over there.
"It's OK, it's just baseball. You catch the ball, throw them out, it's kind of the same. The footwork is a little bit different than it is in the middle. I've primarily been (up) the middle in my life. Just longer drop steps, staying a little lower. It's stuff you just have to refresh yourself on."
Barney has always been considered a standout defender with a weak bat. In addition to getting time at short and third, he is in Albuquerque to work on his hitting as well.
"It's an opportunity for me to come and get some time on the left side of the infield," Barney said. "There's a few things offensively we wanted to tweak. We've made some progress there.
"Just getting back to the left side where I've been most of my life. I played shortstop primarily until the big leagues. I feel very comfortable there."
Going from a rebuilding team like the Cubs to at least an organization with a World Series-contending big-league team has been a plus for Barney. Now it's just a matter of getting back to the big leagues.
"It's easier to relate to that, it's easier to relate to the idea of winning now," Barney said. "As a player that's all you want, you want to be on a team that's contending, an organization that's contending. I'm fortunate to be in that situation now."
Frias up, Smith back
The Dodgers recalled right-hander Carlos Frias (8-4, 5.01 ERA) from the Isotopes to take the roster spot of the injured Chris Perez. With Frias gone, Drew Carpenter (2-1, 7.76) will start Monday's game and Steve Smith was recalled from Double-A Chattanooga to fill out the roster.
Albuquerque pitching coach Glenn Dishman offered up a scouting report on the 24 year old. A groundball-inducing machine, Frias was just activated after serving a seven-game suspension for his role in a brawl in Reno two weeks ago.
"You'll see a good arm, a kid that can manipulate the ball really well," Dishman said. "Curveball, slider, little bit of a changeup and competes his butt off. ... Even in those games where he gave up six or seven hits, you always felt like you're in the ballgame with him. He'll give you innings and he'll get after it.
"He's kind of fun to watch. He'll rear back and try to throw a 100 mph fastball with that big Latin finish. It's kind of fun to watch, but sometimes you want him to calm that down and make some pitches. I think they're in for an exciting thing."
Frias' biggest weapon has been his sinker. The fact it still sinks at altitude should bode well at ballparks closer to sea level.
"Oh my gosh with that sinker, you almost want to sit there and tell him, 'Hey, you could throw that thing 80 percent of the time and just run through a lineup, especially if you get to those heavy air places,'" Dishman said. "Here, see if you can hit this through the hole. Sometimes they might (but) it's a great pitch."
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Frias will be used in long relief for the time being. With starters Dan Haren and Josh Beckett struggling, though, Frias would be the first option for a spot start or two.