GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Who is Brian Barden, and why is he hitting .636?
Barden is a 31-year-old journeyman infielder entering his 12th professional year, having played in 119 Major League games. He's a non-roster invitee trying to make an impression.
"My hits are just falling in," Barden said.
As long a shot as Barden is today, he's not much different than, say, Luis Cruz was a year ago. So you never know.
"That's why we [non-roster invitees] signed with this team, putting ourselves in position to get an opportunity like [Cruz] did," said Barden, a sixth-round pick out of Oregon State University by the D-backs in 2002.
Barden made his Major League debut with Arizona and was later claimed off waivers by St. Louis, where he had a handful of callups before coming off the roster.
He hooked on with the Marlins in 2010 for one callup, and played at Triple-A in the Rangers system in 2011 before opting out at midseason to play in Japan. But his elbow went bad, and in 2012, while buried in the Japanese Minor Leagues, he came home to have surgery to remove bone chips.
The year before Cruz joined the Dodgers, he played in Mexico.
"I learned a lot about myself as a player and person in Japan," said Barden, who tried to satisfy his club by hitting for power. "It just wasn't my game."
In truth, he's considered the type of player who can fill out Triple-A Albuquerque's roster. Then again, so was Cruz a year ago, and now he's the Dodgers' starting third baseman.
Lorenzo Bundy, Albuquerque's manager, was with Barden for three years in the D-backs system and praises his scrappy style, so Barden has that going for him.
Married and the father of two, Barden will accept whatever role, at whatever level, the Dodgers have for him.
"I'm just happy to have a job," he said.