Darwin Barney impresses at the plate as Blue Jays heat up
The infielder has gotten more playing time since Troy Tulowitzki hit the DL, and he played a big part in the Jays sweep over the Yankees.
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TORONTO — Darwin Barney knew he wanted to re-sign with Toronto as soon as he became a free agent at the end of last season.
With the way he's been playing lately, the Blue Jays are glad he did.
Barney went 3 for 3 on Wednesday to pick up his third multi-hit game over his last five starts as Toronto cemented a three-game sweep over their division rival New York Yankees with a 7-0 victory.
"You walk into this clubhouse and these guys are swinging the bats the way they do it just kind of spreads," said Barney, who joined the Blue Jays in a late-season trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I took that confidence that these guys have to the plate with me last year, and that was a big part of the reason why when I was a free agent I wanted to come back.
"I like the feeling here, I like the attitude we bring. You can be yourself at the plate and you don't have to do too much. There's a lot of power in this lineup and I think that had a lot to do with me really pushing to come back."
Toronto's sweep over New York was the Blue Jays' first of the season and their first sweep of the Yankees at Rogers Centre in 16 seasons.
After starting the year with a disappointing 11-14 April, Toronto seems to have turned a corner, going 17-12 through May and winning their first game in June.
Barney has been a big part of that.
The infielder, who's starting with more frequency since all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hit the disabled list with a quadriceps injury on May 28, is batting .344 through 33 games — and .536 over his last 10.
Barney made a name for himself as a defensive specialist, especially after winning a Gold Glove with the Chicago Cubs in 2012, but he didn't start his major-league career with that reputation. Recently he's been working with Blue Jays hitting coach Brook Jacoby to round out his game.
"Brook and I sat down and talked about what made me a good hitter my first two seasons in the big leagues. We looked at some video and tried to get back to that guy," Barney said. "That's basically it. Just being myself, not trying to do too much and putting good at-bats together."
While Barney admits he's happy with the way things are going, he also knows the Blue Jays can't afford to get complacent.
Toronto (29-26) has an off day Thursday before beginning a three-game series against the division-leading Red Sox (32-21) at Boston's Fenway Park. Friday's game will mark the Blue Jays' 33rd against AL East teams already this season, more than any other team in the division.
Their AL-East heavy schedule continues with two more series against second-placed Baltimore in mid-June.
"Early in the year our pitching would be good and we weren't scoring runs or the other way around," Barney said. "I think no one in here really doubted that we were a well-rounded team.
"It's starting to show a little bit and we've got a big series coming up. We've got to keep it up, keep the pressure on our division."