CHICAGO (AP) -The Chicago Cubs traded embattled catcher Michael Barrett and cash to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday for backup catcher Rob Bowen and minor league outfielder Kyler Burke.
Barrett, batting .256 with nine homers and 29 RBIs, has had problems defensively and also been involved in two dugout exchanges this month with Cubs pitchers.
He and Carlos Zambrano got into a skirmish in the dugout June 1 and it carried over into the clubhouse where Barrett got a black eye and needed stitches in his lip.
The Atlanta Braves had scored five runs just before Zambrano and Barrett went at it in the dugout. Zambrano pointed at his head and screamed at Barrett, who allowed a run to score on a passed ball and throwing error.
Less than two weeks later, Barrett and pitcher Rich Hill had a verbal exchange in the dugout during a game against the Seattle Mariners.
``The fight had nothing to do with it,'' general manager Jim Hendry said during a telephone conference call. ``The Rich Hill situation, that's normal major league baseball every night. It just happened to be seen and blown out of proportion. That happens all the time. It wasn't even discussed in-house about being an issue. ... We just felt like we were trying to shore up the position in a little different fashion, a little bit more defensively.''
An emotional player, Barrett was the central figure in a brawl with the White Sox last season. He set it off by punching A.J. Pierzynski in the jaw after he'd been run over at the plate. Barrett was suspended for 10 games.
Barrett, who signed a $12 million, three-year deal in January 2005, has a $4.4 million salary this year and will be eligible for free agency after this season. He's been known more for his offensive abilities than his ones behind the plate. In 2006, he batted a career high .307 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs.
``We felt he was on his way to becoming a terrific player, an all-star caliber player,'' Hendry said.
``This year he has a little tougher time defensively, and a lot of it is probably from trying too hard. Maybe some if it is it's the last year of his deal. He's been a really, really good offensive player and for the first couple years really showed a lot of improvement defensively, then, like I said, we've had a little rougher time the first half of this year. We just felt like we needed to make a change.''
Koyie Hill has become Zambrano's catcher the last three starts. Henry Blanco, who was supposed to be Barrett's backup this season, has been on the disabled list with neck problems.
Bowen is batting .268 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 30 games for the Padres this season.
Chicago obtained Barrett in a trade with Oakland on Dec. 16, 2003, one day after the Athletics acquired him from Montreal. Prior to the trades, he had spent his entire six-year career with Montreal.
Hendry said discussions on the trade with Padres GM Kevin Towers began three or four days ago. It comes less than a week after San Diego and Chicago got into a bench-clearing brawl at Wrigley Field, one that began when Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee was hit by a pitch and took a swing at Padres' pitcher Chris Young.

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