Brewers release veteran Nixon
Outfielder hit .105 in 20 spring games; Crew also options Gamel
PHOENIX -- The Brewers released veteran outfielder Trot Nixon on Wednesday in their latest round of roster cuts.In other moves, the team optioned third baseman Mat Gamel and catcher Angel Salome to Triple-A Nashville, returned infielder/outfielder Jason Bourgeois and left-hander Chris Narveson to Minor League camp and announced that recently acquired reliever Wes Littleton had cleared waivers and been outrighted to Nashville. Littleton, though, will remain as a non-roster player in camp, ostensibly to compete for a bullpen job.
Nixon signed a Minor League contract over the winter and the Brewers hoped he would be this year's Gabe Kapler, a fellow former Red Sox who had a solid 2008 season as a backup outfielder in Milwaukee. Instead, Nixon batted .105 in 20 Cactus League games and fell behind fellow competitors Chris Duffy, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Brad Nelson in the chase for two spots on the bench.While the rest of the team warmed up for a game against the Dodgers on Wednesday, Nixon was packing his belongings in the Brewers clubhouse. Through a club spokesman, he declined to speak to reporters. "That was tough for me," said Brewers manager Ken Macha, who was Nixon's Minor League skipper from 1995-98 and said he put his "heart and soul" into developing Nixon as a big leaguer. "I explained to him that his career has meant as much to me as to him because I spent so much time with him. I'm proud to say he was a player with me in the Minor Leagues because of his professionalism and the career that he has had." Nixon indicated to Macha that he still wants to play and was not mulling retirement. That's why Macha encouraged Brewers general manager Doug Melvin to make the move early, instead of waiting for the final week of Spring Training. Macha intimated that he and Nixon may not have parted on the best of terms. "He came to me and he said that he had known me for a long time but that things were a little different between he and I in Spring Training here," Macha said. "But I said to him, 'No. 1, I am trying to get to know 56 different people here. The other thing is I wanted you to come in here and earn this spot yourself.' "I consider Trot a friend and I'm proud of his career. I know his father and his wife, and if he does get on to play, I wish him well. If he doesn't, I told him it's equally difficult for everyone. When you love the game as much as he does, and as I did, it's tough to call it quits. I hope he catches on and gets to play this year." The Brewers didn't have a home for Nixon at Triple-A Nashville, where prospects Cole Gillespie and Brendan Katin are expected to get regular playing time. The rest of Nashville's outfield corps will depend on further cuts by the big league club. Nixon's best years were in Boston from 2001-03, when he averaged 26 home runs and 90 RBIs. But he appeared in only 11 games in the Majors last season with the Mets, batting .171 (6-for-35) before going on the disabled list with a groin injury. In parts of 12 Major League seasons with the Red Sox, Indians and Mets, Nixon batted .274 with 137 home runs and 555 RBIs. He played in six postseasons and won a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2004.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.