Barrett's fights didn't lead to trade, Cubs say

Jeff Vorva

The Cubs deny that Michael Barrett’s fights with Carlos Zambrano and an argument in the dugout with Rich Hill this month led to the catcher’s trade Wednesday to San Diego.

There have been whispers over the years that Cubs pitchers didn’t care to work with Barrett. Things became public when he got into two altercations with Zambrano on June 1 and was seen arguing with Hill in the dugout 11 days later.

General manager Jim Hendry said those incidents played no role in the deal, which sent Barrett and $1.5 million to San Diego for catcher Rob Bowen and a minor league outfielder.

“First of all, the Rich Hill situation is normal major league baseball every night,” Hendry said. “It happened to be seen (on camera) and blown out of proportion. That happens all the time. That wasn’t anything we even discussed in house about being an issue. And truthfully, the (Zambrano) fight had nothing to do with it. We felt we were trying to shore up the position in a different fashion - a little bit more defensively.”

Zambrano, who bloodied Barrett’s mouth during the June 1 incident - an injury that required stitches - refused five different media requests to talk about the trade.

Hill, however, talked, and praised Barrett.

“There weren’t any problems between the pitching staff and Michael Barrett,” Hill said. “Day in and day out, he worked hard and was a great professional. He will be missed in this clubhouse. He was a leader here. People might not see before and after games how he worked handling the pitching staff.”

As for his dugout argument with Barrett?

“That’s what happens in a family,” Hill said. “You fight with your brother. Couples have arguments all the time. That’s the way it is here. Guys are going to have disagreements. But with him and I, it was over a pitch I was frustrated with. I wish I had thrown that pitch a little bit better.”

Good Michael, bad Michael

Barrett left different impressions. Some fans may remember him for fighting with Zambrano or punching White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the face. Some teammates remember him in a different light.

“It feels a little emptier in here (the clubhouse) tonight,” catcher Koyie Hill said. “That speaks volumes for him and his personality. A bunch of guys on this team lost their best friend, it seems like.

“This is a guy who, when I got out of my cab when I arrived at Wrigley Field (after being called up June 1), gave me a big ol’ hug. When you play the same position there’s usually a ‘Hey, this is my territory.’ Michael was never like that.”

Aches and pains

Aramis Ramirez (left knee injury) felt fatigued after taking batting practice in the Texas heat the past two days. He’s still on track to come off the disabled list for Friday’s game against the Sox. It’s possible the Cubs will use him as their designated hitter in the weekend series.

Right-hander Wade Miller (back, shoulders) was to start throwing off a mound this week but he said he would probably start throwing next week.

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