Prior to the 2007 season, second baseman Josh Barfield had difficulty adjusting to life in the American League and breaking in with his new team when the Cleveland Indians first acquired him.
In his rookie season with the Padres, he hit .280 over 150 games. The following year in Cleveland he hit .243 over 130 games, and has since been marginalized to AAA, constantly on the fringes of the majors.
Now, it seems that Barfield might be working his way back to relevance in Cleveland once again.
Earlier this year Indians beat writer Anthony Castrovince revealed that Barfield will be given time in the outfield, third base, and shortstop this offseason to gauge his versatility and value to the team.
Last season, Barfield was recalled from Buffalo to fill in for the struggling second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, but only played in three games. He was forced on the disabled list after being struck on the middle finger with a pitch.
In Sept., Barfield joined the Tribe again, batting .222 in 27 at-bats. His plate discipline seemed poor still, as he had no walks in that time span.
The biggest question with Barfield has always been his bat. He has proven that he can field his position well.
But with Cabrera, Mark DeRosa and Luis Valbuena all contending for the second base position in the near future, it seems that Barfield's future with the club will not be at that position.
If Barfield is to stick with the team in the upcoming 2009 season, it will be as a utility man and late-inning defensive substitution. The most important thing for Barfield to do this spring is to focus on his defensive versatility and to continue working on his offense.
I believe that Barfield can be very valuable to the team this year, wherever he is playing. With some patience and diligence, he can overcome his struggles and regain the form that convinced Cleveland to ship Kevin Kouzmanoff to the west coast for Barfield.
Four days left until the Indians season officially begins. It's time to get excited fans.
It's Tribe time now.