Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 7/24/12
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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Predators fans throw catfish on ice to celebrate Stanley Cup berth

WATCH: Draymond Green tries just a little to hard to sell foul

Eddie George fires up Predators fans before Game 4 vs Ducks

Viktor Arvidsson had bloody ‘R’ on forehead after hit

Danny Ainge’s son running for congressional seat in Utah

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

John Wall’s retweet saves fan from taking final exam

WATCH: Cubs pull off two miraculous defensive plays in a row

To raise money for charity, a wrestling fan has Cody Rhodes slam him on thumbtacks

Gregg Popovich on Steve Kerr’s health issues: ‘It’s just a crap situation’

CJ McCollum clearly interested in having Paul Millsap join Blazers

Injuries are depriving us from watching the Spurs thrive in the clutch

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

The 'Happy birthday to two of the NBA's all-time antagonists' quiz

The shortstop evolution continues to raise the ceiling

Three Up, Three Down: Astros dominate in every category

Box Score 5/19: Heartbreak in OT

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

The 'Happy birthday to two of the NBA's all-time antagonists' quiz

The shortstop evolution continues to raise the ceiling

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker