Known for defense, Barney contributing with bat

Known for defense, Barney contributing with bat

DETROIT -- The Blue Jays didn't have a lot to be happy about on Monday night, but shortstop Darwin Barney continued to be a bright spot during an otherwise gloomy night.

Barney went 2-for-3 at the plate and was responsible for Toronto's only hits of the night until the ninth inning of an 11-0 loss to the Tigers. It was the continuation of a recent trend that has seen Barney become a surprise standout performer while starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is on the disabled list with a sore right quad.

The 30-year-old Barney is hitting .414 (12-for-29) with three extra-base hits and four walks since taking over the everyday duties on May 28. He has been known throughout his career as a stellar defender, but in a Blue Jays uniform Barney also has been well-above average with the bat as well.

"I had always heard about him, but I hadn't seen much of him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Watching him in a little bit of time last year, I liked everything about him. My idea was the part-time role, fill in when you needed, that's kind of the way he came in.

"Really wasn't until this year that he got to play more, but you get to see the true guy, and I think he has become a better hitter over time. He was always known as a glove guy but he works at it, he studies and he's made himself into a pretty [darn] good hitter."

Barney's success with the Blue Jays hasn't been limited to just his time as a temporary fill-in for Tulowitzki either. He began the year as a utility infielder, but eventually won the starting job at second base over Ryan Goins, prior to Devon Travis' return from the disabled list.

Barney's leaping catch

A Gold Glove Award winner at second with the Cubs in 2012, Barney has had to earn his playing time every step of the way, which makes his run this season even more impressive. He was relegated to the Minor Leagues last season while with the Dodgers, joined the Blue Jays in September and used a strong 15-game run to earn a one-year deal with the club this offseason.

In 37 games this year, Barney is hitting .337 with three home runs and nine RBIs, and he entered play on Monday with an .847 OPS. Not bad for a guy the Blue Jays acquired for future cash considerations and later signed to a one-year contract at a very affordable rate of $1.05 million.

"The more I play, the more I get comfortable," Barney said. "The at-bats will come when they come. Today, obviously I got lucky a couple of times. But good things happen when you put the ball in play. I'm just trying to put up good at-bats at the bottom of the order and make it tough on these guys coming up to the top of the order."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.