Bianchi makes first Major League start on Sunday

Bianchi makes first Major League start on Sunday

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers rookie shortstop Jeff Bianchi made his first Major League start on Sunday, batting eighth in manager Ron Roenicke's lineup.

Bianchi didn't find out he was starting until Sunday morning, and he didn't hide how he felt after getting the news.

"The first thing I told my wife and friends and family was, 'Hey, just pray for my nerves,'" Bianchi said. "Because I'm probably going to be a little anxious and nervous, so that's never a bad thing."

Milwaukee acquired Bianchi from the Cubs this offseason after he spent the first six years of his career in the Royals organization. Having missed the 2010 season because of Tommy John surgery and battling through various other injuries, the 25-year-old Bianchi said it's been a long road to the Majors, and that makes him appreciate his opportunity even more.

Once he was called up during the All-Star break from Triple-A Nashville, where he batted .305 with 13 RBIs in 51 games this season, it didn't take long for Bianchi to find his way into the lineup. He got his first taste of the Majors on Friday, striking out in one pinch-hit appearance.

"I've been here a couple days now, and getting that at-bat definitely helped the excitement of it all," Bianchi said. "I've got that at-bat under my belt now, so I think I'm definitely ready for today."

When Bianchi arrived, Roenicke said he didn't want to wait too long to insert him into the lineup. From what the second-year manager saw in Spring Training and heard from others who have seen Bianchi play, the rookie provides a good glove and the ability to do a variety of things with the bat and on the bases. And despite the fact that Sunday marks the third game of a nine-game stretch the Brewers have described as the most important of the season, Roenicke said it was a good day to get a look at Bianchi.

"If we wait for those nine games, and then play Bianchi after that, it's not real fair for him," Roenicke said. "This is a guy everybody in the Minor Leagues likes. 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."

Bianchi, who hails from Lancaster, Pa., about an hour outside of Philadelphia, said he had family drive in over the weekend, and he was excited they would get the chance to see him in his first big league start. He also said his new teammates have made his transition to the Majors an easy one so far.

"These guys have been very welcoming. It's been great, so I look forward to continue to just build relationships with these guys and play alongside these guys," Bianchi said.