The Washington Times - November 3, 2011, 02:06PM

The Astros announced they’ve claimed utility man Brian Bixler off waivers from the Nationals today, sending the valuable do-everything man to Houston after he spent much of 2011 in Washington.

Bixler, 29, appeared in 79 games for the Nationals in 2011, playing all three outfield positions, shortstop, third base and first base. He posted a .205 average, .267 on-base percentage and .265 slugging percentage line in 94 plate appearances.

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The speedy Bixler legged out multiple infield hits over the course of the season, getting down the line faster than arguably anyone else on the team and proved as a valuable pinch runner. His speed also helped his range in the outfield — a position he’d played only a handful of times in the minor leagues. 

The move both removes Bixler from the Nationals’ 40-man roster and also starts the process of upgrading the Nationals bench to shape it more in the image manager Davey Johnson has in mind.

From almost the day Johnson took over he praised Bixler’s versatility — a Jerry Hairston Jr. in the making, if you will — but lamented the Nationals lack of outfield depth. He also found that the Nationals bench was more designed to serve as defensive replacements than late-game power threats.