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Hurdle keeps an eye on injury to Cubs' Barney

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates could get a little opening series break if Darwin Barney, one of the National League's newly minted Bucs killers, is forced to miss three games with a knee injury suffered in the Cubs' final preseason game.

Barney sustained a five-inch gash in his left knee going for a foul pop in Saturday's exhibition against the Astros in Minute Maid Park. The Cubs are considering having the second baseman start the season on the disabled list, but that decision does not have to be made before Monday morning.

While earning a National League Gold Glove Award for his defense last season, Barney was only a modest hitter -- but not against the Pirates. He went 18-for-54 (.333) against Pittsburgh pitching, with an on-base percentage of .410, while batting .245 against the rest of the league.

Barney also is 12-for-40 (.300) against the trio of Pirates pitchers scheduled to go in the series: Opening Day starter A.J. Burnett, followed by Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald.

"They haven't set the roster yet, but we're planning for him being in," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said prior to Sunday afternoon's workout. "If he's not … how many times have you seen that the guy who shows up instead becomes a rock in your shoe as well?

"We have no control over that. We've got the backup plan on whoever could fill in for him. Whoever it is, we'll be ready for that Opening Day roster tomorrow."

Brent Lillibridge is expected to start at second base for the Cubs if Barney can't play.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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