Brian Bixler is a baseball professional. He is not always a major league baseball professional, but he is a very valuable player for a major league team to have on the 40 man roster.
He can play just about any position on the field. He has good running speed and a dependable low-power bat.
In the last few days he has been showing his value to the Astros. In Tuesday's 6-3 loss to San Francisco Bixler had a double and single, drove in two of the three runs and stole a base. He played right field.
On Sunday in Chicago, playing left field he had a single and walk and stole two bases.
Bixler's trip to the Astros still may be temporary. He started the season on the roster when Jed Lowrie was recovering from a spring training injury but was sent to Oklahoma City when Lowrie was ready to go. He also played rarely and many fans never really got to know who he was.
That is understandable. Bixler was a non-roster spring training invitee who had been acquired with only one year and 126 days of major league service time since beginning his pro career in 2004. He had played 68 games with the Pirates over two seasons and another 79 with Washington in 2011. He has never spent a full season on a major league roster and has far more experience with the Pirates' top farm in Indianapolis than anywhere else. And now, at 29 he epitomizes the "journeyman ballplayer."
While spending most of his season at Oklahoma City Bixler did not mope. He just played. He was hitting .302 for the Redhawks before getting the call back to the Astros after Marwin Gonzalez sustained a bruised foot. He knows when Marwin is ready to return he will be headed back to OKC, but he is OK with that. He knows where he stands. He just wants to play baseball. And who knows? Other clubs are aware of his versatility and backup players are always in demand. Especially the ones who can produce results when given their rare chances to start or pinch hit.
A native of Sandusky, Ohio, Bixler was claimed off waivers from Washington last November. A second-round draftee of the Pirates in 2004 after playing collegiately at Eastern Michigan, Bixler was always mostly a middle infielder and a good one. He was once credited with having the best infield arm in the Pittsburgh system and was named Indianapolis' defensive player of the year in 2008.
He was caught behind Jack Wilson in Pittburgh at the time he might have been ready to get a regular shot, so he evolved into a jack of all trades. That may have hurt his chances to ever become a major league star, but allowed him to have more value overall.
Right now Brian is taking things one game at a time. He just wants to play baseball. For the Astros over the last few games he had done just that and one it well. He wlll do the same when the likely cut comes sending him back to Oklahoma City. Brian Bixler is a ballplayer.