Brian Bixler certainly has made an impact since arriving in Oklahoma City.
Since joining the RedHawks on April 13, Bixler has been swinging a hot bat and started at five different positions in the field.
After Thursday night's 11-5 rout of Round Rock at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Bixler was leading the Pacific Coast League with a .423 average and 22 hits, even though he played the first six games of the season for the Houston Astros while shortstop Jed Lowrie was on the disabled list.
Bixler was assigned to Oklahoma City when Lowrie was activated, and the former Pittsburgh Pirate and Washington National certainly didn't hang his about the demotion.
“Brian Bixler has been outstanding,” RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “For a guy to come down and play with the intensity, he has six stolen bases already. I think he is another guy that has a good plan and a bright future.”
The Astros claimed Bixler off waivers from the Nationals in November. Bixler has played 152 games in the major leagues where he has been used mostly as a utility player.
Already for the RedHawks, he has started at shortstop, second base, third base, left field and center field. DeFrancesco said he is confident playing Bixler at every day-to-day position except catcher.
“These super utility guys in the National League seem to keep bouncing around,” DeFrancesco said. “They are very valuable late in games. They win ball games for you.
“There is nothing to say (Bixler) shouldn't be a starting infielder somewhere. Right now, maybe his role is that super utility guy. If there is a need, he is going to be the first guy called up for that role.”
Bixler began his career at shortstop but is comfortable all over the field.
“Whatever your role is, you have to embrace it,” Bixler said. “I started becoming a utility player three or four years ago and kind of learning my way around the field back then. Now I feel I have a pretty good grasp on it.”
Bixler likes all of the positions, but if he had to choose one to play, he would prefer shortstop.
“But really every position I am comfortable at,” he said. “It's kind of something new every day, coming in you got a different job, a different angle. I have fun with it.”
Shortstop is probably the toughest position to play defensively, Bixler said.
“I think corner outfield also is tough, especially learning it because those reads off the bat are a lot harder,” he said. “I think everybody is different. I think positions are harder for different guys for different reasons.”
Bixler knows his future in the major leagues is probably in a utility role.
“Everyone's goal is to get up there and stay up there,” said Bixler, who was drafted by the Pirates in 2004 out of Eastern Michigan.
“It's hard to stay, but I think it can't hurt you being able to play that many positions. Hopefully, I can get up there and stick somewhere.”