Pitcher Plays On and Off the Field

PEORIA — Austin Bibens-Dirkx has shown he has talent on the field. But off the field, the native of Oregon showcases a talent to play something other than the game of baseball.

Before diving into Bibens-Dirkx's personal life, it is important to note the contribution he made for the Peoria Chiefs and their run into the post-season in 2009.

After signing a minor league contract with the Cubs in early July, Bibens-Dirkx appeared in 12 games and started eight. In those 12 games, he used his unorthodox sidearm style of delivery to strike out 50 batters while only walking nine, and he emerged as the staff ace.

A 7-2 record and a 2.04 ERA earned Bibens-Dirkx the right to start the Chiefs' first playoff game since 2006. His 70.2 innings of work may have looked easy for him this season, but the path was anything but easy for the hurler out of the University of Portland.

The Seattle Mariners drafted Bibens-Dirkx in the 16th round of the 2006 draft and he pitched well for their Midwest League affiliate, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, that year.

Pitching out of the bullpen, he accumulated a 2-2 record, 1.95 ERA, and four saves. Bibens-Dirkx even pitched for Triple-A Tacoma for one game when their staff was short on arms. In two innings of work, the sidearm pitcher struck out five batters.

In 2007, however, the injury bug struck.

"I had some arm problems in '07 and had surgery," Bibens-Dirkx said. "I worked hard and tried to get everything back, but with any kind of arm surgery, it takes about a year or so to get everything back."

In 2009, Bibens-Dirkx went to spring training and was released by the Mariners. He never gave up his dream of becoming a big leaguer and continued to throw in an independent league until the Cubs came calling with an offer.

"I was playing independent ball, but I had thrown a bullpen session for the Cubs before I went down to independent ball," Bibens-Dirkx explained. "They said, ‘if a spot opens we'll let you know'. A month and a half into the season, I got a call saying a spot opened up in Peoria if you want it. I took it. You can't really turn down those types of opportunities."

Living the journeyman life Bibens-Dirkx does as a baseball player, it might come as no surprise that when he steps off the mound, he stars as a singer/songwriter. He even released his own self titled CD in 2007.

"I have written most of the songs along with my producer," Bibens-Dirkx said. "We have a great studio band at Arrowhead Studios. It's fun and it gives me something to do when I am down at spring training."

His off-the-field projects started in 2007, the year after he was drafted, and he has continued to write original content since.

"My first spring training, I started recording," Bibens-Dirkx said. "It gives me something other than baseball to focus on as well. Baseball is fun and all, but it is something else. I've written a couple more songs so maybe this next spring training I will record another."

Even though some of his teammates may give him a hard time every once in awhile about his venture, Bibens-Dirkx may have found a future band member in fellow pitcher Aaron Shafer.

"Shafer and I wrote a song one of the first few weeks I was here, which was awesome," Bibens-Dirkx said. "I know he plays every once in awhile around (Peoria). I haven't got to do that yet. When I am down in Arizona, I might ask him to come record with me. That would be sweet."

When Bibens-Dirkx needs inspiration, he thinks back to growing up with his mother, Sheryl, or his faith.

"I like to play a little bit of everything," Bibens-Dirkx said. "I like acoustics, slow love songs. I like to sing that kind of stuff. My latest has been Christian rock. That's one of the reasons I am here. God gave me the opportunity so I kind of repay him in that way.

"It just kind of comes to me. I enjoy music and always have. My mom is always listening to music. I wish she would've given me piano lessons, but I picked up a guitar and started playing it, and it's been fun."

Fans of Bibens-Dirkx have also caught wind of his talent.

The "Austin Bibens-Dirkx Fan Club" has been created on the social-networking website Facebook.com to promote him and his music. His album is available for purchase and/or download at Amazon.com.

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