He's been LSU baseball's glorified swiss army knife all season but veteran Drew Bianco is playing his best ball of the season and settling in to a new position after a revolving door of moves.
When LSU has needed him to be a utility player, he's stepped in to whatever role has been asked of him throughout his career. It all started for Bianco in left field as over the course of his first few seasons with the Tigers, he'd earn spot starts in the outfield with the hopes of catching his offense on a good day.
But with Gavin Dugas becoming one of the clutch hitters in the lineup, leading the team in RBI with 52, Bianco knew that in order to make himself a reliable option for the Tigers, he'd have to play multiple positions. He's spent time early during the 2021 season at shortstop. He's seen time in centerfield with Giovanni DiGiacomo in and out of the rotation because of that hamstring injury.
He's also found himself, for a quarter of the season, sitting on the bench, waiting for that next opportunity. It's not been for a lack of fielding ability that Bianco hasn't seen the field. In fact he's one of the more reliable gloves on the roster. But that bat, for one reason or the other, has failed him with consistency throughout his career.
It wasn't tough on Bianco to switch from position to position and then also find himself out of the lineup completely because it's just more possibilities he sees the field. Sometimes it's hard for players to find a rhythm with all of the switching but a veteran like Bianco just knew he needed to make the most of each opportunity.
"I kind of enjoy it, it gives me a lot more places to play in the lineup," Bianco said. "If something happens, I can go play anywhere in the infield so I look at is as a positive and be pretty good at it."
To start the season, he just couldn't get on base while playing shortstop and centerfield, which made his time as a starter short lived on both occurances. But as the inconsistencies at second base continued, Paul Mainieri had a thought.
With the Tigers critical series against Ole Miss approaching, he decided to start Bianco at second for the weekend. Drew's father, Mike, is the coach for the Rebels and Drew grew up around that program and that ball park. Well third time's the charm.
Bianco has started 11 of the last 12 games over at second base and making the plays in the field while being a bit more consistent with the bat. He's gone 9-of-29 at the plate, a .310 average with nine RBI, seven strikeouts and five walks.
The strikeouts are still a bit higher than Bianco or Mainieri would like but he's improved his batting average from .190 to .239 and has been the most well balanced second baseman for the program this season.
"I definitely think a switch flipped. My confidence, I feel really confident up there," Bianco said. "I think at the beginning of the year I was just stressing and trying to just win a job somewhere on the field and putting on extra pressure that didn't need to do. Then I was at the end of the bench trying to be a good teammate.
"Ever since then [Ole Miss series] I just took it one bat at a time and just try to win that at bat," Bianco said. "When you're batting .160, you have to take it one at a time and I think that's why my numbers have improved."
There was a time during the 2020 offseason that Bianco didn't know if his future lay in Baton Rouge. After a postseason meeting with Mainieri, Bianco hit the transfer portal at Mainieri's suggestion, one that caught Bianco off guard at first.
Mainieri was uncertain if Bianco could win an everyday starter role with the team moving forward but after a week with his name in the portal, Bianco ultimately elected to stay with the Tigers.
"As a coach, you get to crunch time, and you say, 'ok, if you're going to go down, who do you want to go down with?'” Mainieri said. “My attitude is I want to go down with kids that really care and it matters a lot to them. If you're choosing between players of equal ability, who has the passion for it? Who's giving it their very best? Who's going to go out there and lay it all out on the line for you? I look at Drew Bianco, and that's what I see.”
Whether it's laying down a sac bunt, coming up with an RBI hit or making clutch plays on defense, Bianco is just trying to do a little bit of everything now that he's getting some extended run at second base.
Pitcher Landon Marceaux has seen the confidence in Bianco grow over the last several weeks. Dugas, who is roommates with Bianco, agrees that he's the swiss army knife for this team, calling him the ultimate team guy in the many roles he plays.
"I love Drew to death, that's my roommate, my best friend since I've gotten here and he's the spark plug for this team," Dugas said. "He has the ability to come in and make a difference because he's so athletic and he's doing what he's meant to do. He has the most positive attitude and will do whatever he can to help us move forward."
Bianco is making good on this latest opportunity and with the Tigers fighting for their postseason lives, it couldn't come at a better time.
"I love LSU, I love my teammates and I knew I was good enough to play here," Bianco said. "I didn't want to run from the challenge so I'm glad I gave it another shot because it's working out right now."