Found July 24, 2012 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
MILWAUKEE In 2012, it was an injury to Alex Gonzalez that gave shortstop Jeff Bianchi a chance to achieve his dream of playing in the major leagues. But for the seven years before that, injuries threatened to keep him from ever making it in the sport he loves so much. It's a cruel coincidence that Bianchi clearly doesn't like to call attention to. Instead, in just his second week in the Brewers' clubhouse, Bianchi chooses to assure reporters how thankful he is to simply be where he is. He is as wide-eyed as any new player has been all season. That's because Bianchi knows how tough the road can be to get to the majors, perhaps better than most. A second-round pick of the Royals in 2005, Bianchi was one of Kansas City's most touted prospects at one time, he was the fifth-best in a talented Royals system, according to Baseball America. Those were better days for Bianchi, who thrived for the Royals' rookie ball team in the Arizona League. In 2005-06, Bianchi hit .414 in 140 at-bats. But Bianchi was sidelined with a back injury in 2005. Then a torn labrum in 2006. The injuries would leak over into his 2007 season and clearly affect his game in 2007 and 2008, as his average hung around the .250 mark in Single-A ball. Everything seemed to come together for the young shortstop in 2009, though, as a healthy season allowed him to begin his expected rise through Kansas City's farm system. Between Single-A and Double-A ball that season, Bianchi batted .308 with nine home runs and 70 RBI. The Royals could see the potential that made them draft Bianchi in the first place, four years before. The progress he made in a healthy 2009, however, would deteriorate in spring training in 2010, as Bianchi couldn't ignore the undeniable pain in his elbow. He needed Tommy John surgery, nixing his entire season before he even took the field for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. It all seemed like a cruel joke to a player who had never sat out more than a game or two before reaching the minor leagues. Soon, the Royals had given up on their infield prospect. Unsure if his injuries would continue to affect him, the Cubs claimed the 25-year-old off waivers last December. But he lasted only a month with Chicago. Without much depth at shortstop in the organization, the Brewers appeared to be the perfect destination for Bianchi. He didn't show much in spring training hitting just 1-for-12 but his production at Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville batting over .300 begged a specific question: Was Bianchi ready to fulfill his massive potential? At the beginning of July, Bianchi finally was able to walk up to his locker in the Milwaukee clubhouse and looked up at the nameplate above it, soaking it all in. He had finally made it. "To overcome those injuries," Bianchi said, "it just makes me more thankful to be here, someplace I wasn't sure I would ever make it to." Brewers manager Ron Roenicke knows why Bianchi is in Milwaukee. He's heard the good things and the bad about the Brewer's newest shortstop. But on a team desperate for potential, Bianchi could provide a spark. It's an addition Roenicke believes is worth the risk. "This is a guy that everybody in the minor leagues likes," Roenicke said. We've had some of our people from the front office go down and see him and everybody likes this guy. We need to see what he can do. It's not anything against Cody Ransom or (Cesar Izturis), but this is a guy that maybe can play some here for us. If he's as good defensively as they say and if he can do all the little things offensively that they tell me, then he should have a chance to play." Bianchi has yet to get a hit in 11 plate appearances, but there's no frustration in his face. He's just happy to be here. Asked about his injury history, it's clear Bianchi has tried his best to move on from the topic. But he does acknowledge that he wouldn't be who he is now if he hadn't faced so many struggles. "It's hard to say I'm happy I went through them, but I am," Bianchi said. "I grew a lot from that time being away. It made me appreciate the game that much more. And it just makes it even more special to be here." Bianchi will fight with journeymen Cody Ransom and Cesar Izturis for playing time the rest of the season, as Gonzalez's early-May injury left a significant hole in the Brewers' lineup. The opportunities haven't been frequent so far, but neither Ransom nor Izturis has proven he deserves to be an everyday replacement and that leaves an opening for a high-potential player such as Bianchi to take advantage. Still, after becoming the fifth different Brewer to play shortstop this season, he brushes off questions of taking advantage of the opportunity. For now, he's just concerned about filling his role. He knows how fickle baseball can be, how an opportunity can be there one day and gone the next. He smiles when he's asked if he feels like he's fulfilling his life-long dream. "This is my eighth season, so it's been somewhat of a long road to get here," Bianchi said. "But it only makes it all that much sweeter, knowing I overcame these injuries. I've very thankful to be here. This road has been blessed for me to get here." Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES
HOME RUN TROT

Carlos Gomez rounds bases on foul ball

Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee BrewersPhoto Credit: wikipedia.org The feeling that you’ve just hit a home run is undoubtedly exhilarating, it’s almost like you lose yourself. You are so excited to round those bases, sometimes you are oblivious to what is going on around you. Just ask Carlos Gomez, who hit what he thought was a home run only to find out that the ball was foul….after...

Brewers may start shopping players

Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is not yet ready to declare his team an outright seller. But clearly, Melvin is moving closer to such a decision. The Brewers, who were swept by the Cincinnati Reds this weekend, went 4-5 in a critical stretch against the three teams that they trail in the NL Central. At 44-50, the team is 10 1/2 games out in the division and 7 1/2...

Kartje: Brewers are in unfamiliar territory

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke isn't one for adding importance to midseason games. He's not one to make guarantees. And even through the Brewers' early struggles, he never bit on questions that would force him to levy some kind of drastic expectation on one series or another. But a week before the All-Star game, Roenicke seemed to break character, even if it was subtle...

Carlos Gomez Mistakenly Circles Bases After Believing Foul Ball Was Home Run, Ends Up Striking Out (Video)

Sometimes, hustle can be a bad thing. Carlos Gomez found that out the hard way on Wednesday, after mistakenly believing that he had hit a home run on what turned out to be a foul ball. The Milwauke Brewers outfielder received the unfortunate news that his home run wasn't going to count after rounding third, and then promptly struck out on the next pitch. To his credit, he didn...

Brewers' rotation has remained strong

When a team's pitching staff is performing as planned, and all the cogs are working in conjunction with one another, things follow a fairly distinct pattern. The bullpen's performance is, more often than not, overlooked if the team's relievers are doing their job. Meanwhile, the starting rotation again, if it's doing its job gets the majority of the glory. That...

Brewers Begin Weeklong Waiting Game

Now that the Milwaukee Brewers have failed in their self-stated nine-game comeback quest, all eyes are on what Doug Melvin and the front office will do before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.  To put insult with injury, after a somewhat-promising couple of series at home against the Pirates and Cardinals, the Brewers were outclassed and swept in Cincinnati.  Then they witnessed...

What You Need to Know: Wednesday, July 25 by Daniel Rathman

The Tuesday Takeaway All eyes, from fans’ to scouts’, were on Zack Greinke when the Brewers ace took the mound last night at Citizens Bank Park. His team had lost four straight and was seven games under .500 coming into the second game of the series in Philadelphia, but Greinke was pitching less for the Brewers of today and more for the Brewers of tomorrow. Apparently felled...

Milwaukee Brewers : By the Numbers

My dad often uses this expression : Figures lie, and liars figure.   He also referred darkly to “lies, damned lies, and statistics” – although Mark Twain might have said it first. Let’s sum up the first 95 games of the Milwaukee Brewers by the numbers.  You can then figure your own lies if you will and figure out the Brewers craptastic season. (Hotties sprinkled in so...

Wolf, Brewers face Halladay in Philadelphia

The last time the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers were preparing to open a series, both clubs were rolling toward a division title. That's definitely not the case this time. Roy Halladay will try to give the Phillies back-to-back home wins for the first time in nearly a month in Monday night's series opener against the struggling Brewers. When the Phillies...

Brewers Player Power Rankings (07/24/12)

First, let me apologize for being a day late on getting these out for this week…an extended weekend camping was actually a nice change of pace considering I missed all 4-loses!!! ***NOTE:  The number in parenthesis is change from last week*** #1: OF Ryan Braun (-) – Braun continues to do what he does.  .308 average, 26 Homers (leads NL) and 66 RBI (5th in NL) #2: 3B Aramis...

Ninth Inning Comeback Lead Phillies to 7-6 Victory over Brewers

Roy Halladay returned to Citizens Bank Park for the first time since coming off the disabled list during the Dodgers series. He would face Randy Wolf and the Milwaukee Brewers.  It didn't start out on a good note for Doc. In the first inning, Carlos Gomez was able to score on a double from Aramis Ramirez. Corey Hart later brought home Ramirez with an RBI single, giving the...

Where are you going, Carlos?

Carlos Gomez got a little over zealous Wednesday when he hit a long fly ball deep down the line. Instead of staring and admiring it like most big leaguers, he put his head down and headed around the bases – only to find out that the ball was foul. What happened next is completely understandable as Gomez struck out to end the at bat. One of the worst feelings in the world is watching...

Gameday: Brewers (44-52) at Phillies (43-54)

Milwaukee Brewers (44-52) at Philadelphia Phillies (43-54) Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.10) vs. Vance Worley (5-6, 3.82) Time: 1:05, Citizens Bank Park TV: CSN Weather: Mostly Sunny, 92 Media: Twitter and Facebook Another day, another unbelievable comeback.  The Phillies will go for the sweep this afternoon. Vance Worley’s last start can be summed up by one bad inning. Worley...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.