- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 30, 2011

Among a flurry of roster moves made by the Washington Nationals as the trade deadline approaches, the team recalled utility player Brian Bixler from Syracuse after trading Jerry Hairston Jr. to the Milwaukee Brewers for minor leaguer Erik Komatsu.

In previous stints with Washington this year, Bixler has hit .196 (9 for 46) with six runs and four stolen bases. In 25 games at Triple-A, he has a .314 batting average with 17 runs scored. The 28-year-old was excited to get another opportunity to play in the majors.

“I was very excited. I didn’t really expect it,” he said. “I was just excited to be able to come back up. It’s the big leagues. Anybody would be happy, so I’m just excited to get here and help the team win.”

With Roger Bernardina’s move to the minor leagues earlier this week, Bixler may be asked to split time in center field with Rick Ankiel. He has also played second and third base, shortstop and left field during the course of this season.

Bixler said he and manager Davey Johnson have only briefly discussed his role with the team, without mentioning too many specifics.

“I think it’s going to be similar to what it was before — just a utility-type guy, play infield, outfield, come off the bench, run, maybe some starts here and there. [Johnson] didn’t say specifically, but I think that’s what it’s going to be,” Bixler said. “I think I could be [playing center field]. It’s a position I can play. If that’s where they need me, that’s where I’ll be.”

Despite the changes going on around the clubhouse, Bixler said the team’s focus has not wavered. They will take the field Saturday prepared for the task at hand — a win against the visiting New York Mets — without being distracted by Sunday’s trade deadlne.

“Everybody here is a professional,” Bixler said. “I think everyone can handle it pretty well. We’ve all been through it before. We’ve been around this situation. It’s part of it. I think we just go with it and just keep working and let it work out how it’s going to work out. There’s a lot of things you can’t control, so be professional just go about our business and play to win.”

Wins have been hard to come by for the Nationals since the All-Star break. Washington has lost a season-high six consecutive games to fall seven games below .500 for the first time since June 11. Saturday, they aim to avoid a sixth consecutive series loss.

“You just worry about one game at a time,” Bixler said. “You can’t worry about record. We’re just going to go out and play today, and play to beat the Mets.”



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