Slowly but inexorably, the past is giving way to the future at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs cut ties with another of the "old guard" Tuesday, saying goodbye to former Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney.
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They made the move before Tuesday night's 6-0 victory over the San Diego Padres, designating Barney for assignment and activating second baseman-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio off the disabled list.
As respected as Barney was for his defense and presence in the clubhouse, his offense has suffered for the past couple of seasons, and playing time was slipping away.
Earlier this year, Bonifacio was getting time at second base. Of late, rookie Arismendy Alcantara came up and got off to a good start, with Barney away on paternity leave.
Bonifacio started at second Tuesday, with Alcantara playing center field. In the seventh inning, Alcantara hit a booming home run to right field, just before first baseman Anthony Rizzo hit his second of the night and his league-leading 25th of the year.
As for the rest of the Cubs' future, rookie pitcher Kyle Hendricks, making his second career start, earned his first major-league victory by pitching 7 innings of 5-hit ball.
"I really can't describe it, to be honest," Hendricks said. "It's definitely the best day of my life. First major-league win, it's what you work for since you're a little kid playing T-ball. So I can't really put it into words. It's awesome."
Hendricks is part of the Cubs' future, along with Rizzo, Starlin Castro and a boatload of prospects. Kris Byrant and Javier Baez are hitting at Class AAA Iowa, and late Tuesday, the Cubs said they're promoting outfielder Jorge Soler from Class AA Tennessee to Iowa and outfielder Albert Almora from Daytona (A) to Tennessee.
Still, general manager Jed Hoyer said it wasn't easy letting Barney go.
"It's really hard," Hoyer said. "He's a guy we have so much respect for as a person and had grown to really like him and respect him. I think he's a really good baseball player. He's a winning player. I think he showed that in college. He can do a lot of things on the field to help a winning team."
The Cubs have 10 days to trade, waive or release Barney. They may try to see if they can trade him to a contender, who can use his defense.
"We were in a position here where playing time started to be scarce for him, whether it was (Luis) Valbuena, whether it was Bonifacio, whether it was Alcantara," Hoyer said. "That necessitated the move. It certainly wasn't easy considering all of you guys have gotten to know him I think he's a great guy, and I think he's a great competitor. I'm hoping through this process we can get him to a place where we can hopefully on a contender and get a feel for a pennant race."
Barney had been a Cubs big-leaguer since 2010, but Hoyer also got to the crux of it with Alcantara.
"It's time for Mendy to play," he said. "He'll play second. He'll play center. I think he'll be in the lineup every day. One of the things we feel strongly about is that when we do bring these guys up, they're going to play. We're not going to bring up these guys that are our future to have them share time or sit on the bench. Because he's switch hitter, he can play every day. We don't have to match him up every day.
"It's a very difficult day with Darwin. I do think that it does give us a chance to play Alcantara every day, whether it's in center or at second. I think that's important in the future."