The journey for Austin Bibens-Dirkx isn’t complete, but his trek in professional baseball finally reached its ultimate destination Sunday.
The career minor-leaguer was promoted from Triple A Round Rock and added to the Texas Rangers’ 40-man and 25-man rosters before the series finale against the Seattle Mariners, and he was in uniform and available out of a beleaguered bullpen that needed a fresh arm.
Left-hander Dario Alvarez was optioned to Round Rock to make room for Bibens-Dirx, who at age 32 was in his 12th season in pro ball. He has pitched in the minors, in independent leagues and in Venezuela trying to keep his dream alive.
It’s not a dream any longer.
“This is a blessing. It is a dream come true,” Bibens-Dirkx said. “It’s been a grind. I’ve seen all the highs and seen all the lows. I’m happy, and I can’t even put it into words, really.”
He received the phone call Saturday morning and hopped on a flight to Seattle. He didn’t learn until Sunday morning that he would be added to the roster.
The first thing he did Saturday was call his wife.
“She started crying, and I started tearing up,” said Bibens-Dirks, an Oregon native and Idaho resident who had plenty of friends and family make the drive to Safeco Field. “It’s just a full mix of emotions.”
The Rangers signed him out of independent ball last season and then watched him pitch several times during spring training as a just-in-case player from minor-league camp. He made the coaching staff believers.
Bibens-Dirks won’t overwhelm anyone with his stuff. His fastball sits around 90-92 mph. But he knows how to use his repertoire.
“We had him over in spring training and got a really good look at the stuff and got to know the guy,” manager Jeff Banister said. “He was willing to take the ball every time we gave it to him. One of the greatest assets he showed was the overall instincts and moxie to be able to get outs.”