Expectations were really high when the Indians acquired Josh Barfield from the Padres. In his rookie season (2006), Barfield hit .280 and had 13 HR with 58 RBI, great power numbers for a middle infielder. In 2007, Barfield the Indian struggled in 130 games, batting only .243 with 90 strikeouts and only 14 walks.
The obvious solution to Barfield’s woes was the chasing of bad or unhittable pitches. Barfield will be a much more selective hitter for the Tribe in 2009. He has also branched out defensively. It seems like Eric Wedge has a bunch of guys he could play anywhere this season. Add Barfield to the drawing of positions from a hat if needed theory. Barfield has worked extremely hard all spring to learn playing the outfield. His father Jesse Barfield, was a standout RF for 12 years with the Blue Jays.
In my opinion, the dedication that Barfield has shown this season, thus far, is going to win him a roster spot as a utility player. Under the wing of multi-position teammates Mark DeRosa ansd Jamey Carroll, Barfield has made a very serious attempt to be more versatile. That “do what it takes” attitude is something you need in bench players these days. Cleveland has not had many players on their roster over the past few years who can provide such enthusiasm and back it up with solid work ethic. Barfield is that role player for Cleveland this year.
Hopefully, those countless hours of extra work pay dividends for Barfield this season. If he prospers in his new role, so will the Indians.