Barney went 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs Wednesday against Arizona. Hitting from the leadoff spot, Barney tripled in two runs and brought another home with a sacrifice fly to give him a total of 15 RBI this season. Now that the Jays' infield is healthy, Barney has seen his playing time deteriorate in recent weeks; however, he has made the most of it by hitting safely in eight of his 10 games this month.
Barney played in 64 games during the first half of 2016, slashing .241/.294/.291 in 200 at-bats. Barney earned one of the team's last roster spots in spring training mainly due to Devon Travis' shoulder injury that sidelined the second baseman for the first two months of 2016. However, a series of events led to Barney becoming an everyday fixture in the Jays' lineup by May. The first domino to fall was Ryan Goins who struggled mightily to begin the season before hitting the DL. That was followed by a lingering ailment to Josh Donaldson, and finally an injury to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki that sent him to the DL, too. The 30-year-old utility infielder has played 15-plus games at second, third and short so far this season. Barney seized the opportunity by outperforming his career averages in batting average, on-base and slugging percentage. He had a stretch of 104 at-bats (from May 1 to June 16) in which his batting average never dipped below .300. However, with Goins due back in the coming weeks and the rest of the guys healthy again, Barney is sure to see a significant decrease in playing time during the second half of the year.
Despite entering the season as the infielder seemingly bound for the minors once Devon Travis returned from the DL, Barney has excelled in his role for the team and no longer is in jeopardy of being optioned off the big league squad. The evolution of Barney into the Jays' go-to utility man continues. Barney's defense is key coming off the bench, and he even struck a man out coming in to pitch relief in the July 1 marathon against the Indians. But Barney's performance at the plate is what ensures his survival as the fittest option off the bench. And clearly he loves playing in Toronto. The infielder's .343 batting average at the Rogers Centre is highest on the team this season. He's hit in five straight games and has hit .341 with a .911 OPS while hitting ninth in 2016.
Barney went 3-for-8 with a double and surrendered a game-winning solo homer to Carlos Santana over an inning on the mound in Friday's 2-1, 19-inning loss to the Indians. He also notched a strikeout. The 30-year-old was the second infielder pressed into emergency pitching duty during the marathon affair, entering the game in the top of the 19th in relief of Ryan Goins. Barney came into Friday in a 1-for-12 slump, and the multi-hit effort he generated was his first since June 17. Despite the recent struggles, his season line remains a solid .292/.341/.391.
Barney is starting at shortstop and batting eighth Thursday against Cleveland, Barry Davis of Sportsnet reports. Barney will make his first start since June 21 as Troy Tulowitzki gets a breather following six consecutive days of game action. Barney has been an effective replacement for Tulowitzki at shortstop, making 13 starts there while slashing .287/.340/.380 this season.