Shortstop Brian Bixler was recalled Tuesday to the Pittsburgh Pirates after first baseman Adam LaRoche was placed on the 15-day DL with a muscle strain in his ribcage.
It’s the second stint in the major’s for Bixler, a 2001 Perkins graduate, this season. He made his major league debut April 6 in a 9-2 win against the Florida Marlins on the road.
Bixler batted .175 with two RBI as a fill-in for shortstop Jack Wilson in 34 games between April and May. His first hit in the major’s came April 12 against the Cincinnati Reds.
The 25-year old Bixler was batting .278 with six home runs for the Indianapolis Indians and participated in the Triple-A All-Star game. He could see playing time at second base with Freddy Sanchez nursing back spasms. Chris Gomez started at second Monday night, and Luis Rivas started Tuesday’s game against Colorado and went 3-for-4 in the Pirates’ 6-4 victory.
Manager John Russell turned to Bixler to play shortstop more than any other player on the roster during Wilson’s absence. Bixler made 24 starts for the club and settled in defensively, committing only one error between April 26 and May 25 — his final appearance before he was sent back down to Indianapolis.
LaRoche, who was batting .390 in July, will not be eligible to come off the DL until Aug. 12. The Pirates already have a capable backup in Doug Mientkiewicz, a former gold-glover, allowing the organization to recall Bixler to replace LaRoche on the 25-man roster.
Bixler was drafted in the second round in 2004 after playing three seasons at Eastern Michigan University. He was named the 2004 MAC Player of the Year after finishing second in the country with a .453 average. Bixler finished his collegiate career as Eastern Michigan’s leader in runs scored (194) and second in hits (258). He was the first player to collect 100 hits in a season in 2004 and set a conference record with a 32-game hit streak that season.
Bixler is expected to be among the club’s September callups later in the season, according the the organization’s Web site. He has been labeled as the successor to Wilson when his time with the club ends — either with his retirement or trade. The MLB trade deadline is 4 p.m. Thursday.
The Pirates, 13 games back of the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central, have a 50-57 record.
Keep up with all the local sports action at Fandy.com.