Manager Clint Hurdle has never flinched in his support of shortstop Clint Barmes this season. Even when Barmes’ batting average was still stuck well below .200 in mid-June, he usually found his name in the starting lineup.
Was it because Barmes and Hurdle share the same first name? Because they were buddies from back in their Colorado Rockies days? Because Barmes is making $10.5 million? Because he’s a veteran? Because he’s been around winning and losing clubs before? Because he’s a quiet, unassuming leader? Because he knows how to read NL batters far better than Jordy Mercer or Josh Harrison? Because he mashed 23 homers three seasons ago? Because he mashed a walkoff, three-run homer off Trevor Hoffman as a rookie on Opening Day 2005? Or just because that bulging vein on his bald dome sometimes makes him look downright mean?
There’s a little bit of all of that in the reason. Or, as Hurdle explained this afternoon: “(Barmes) works hard, he understands what’s at stake. He wants to really help out and be part of something significant. He does embody a lot of what’s going on, because he’s a blue-collar kid. He grinds things out and doesn’t take anything for granted.”
Hurdle has gotten plenty of unsolicited advice this summer from folks who want to see Barmes’ butt either nailed to the bench, sent down to Indy or flat-out released. But, as he watched Barmes whack a game-turning grand slam Sunday afternoon, Hurdle did not succumb to feelings of “told-ya-so” or self-satisfaction. “That’s a place I don’t go,” Hurdle said. “I believe in what I believe in, so it’s not personal satisfaction. Sometimes, it plays out. When it doesn’t play out, I’m not going to kick a guy to the curb. I really believe there’s some validity to what we’re trying to do with him getting the games that he gets. There is a security within our clubhouse when he’s at shortstop, moreso than the other guys — based on volume (of experience), based on pedigree, based on all those things defensively. You look at Mercer and he could be the next guy to go there. You look at Harrison and the improvement he’s made has been noticeable. We’re trying to mix and match to put our best team out there each night. (Barmes) has helped us win some games, moreso with the glove than with the bat. But there’s still a bunch of games for him to help with the bat.”