Nixon homers in final rehab stint

Nixon homers in final rehab stint

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Trot Nixon might want to punch up Big Joe Turner's recording of "Going to Kansas City" on his iPod.

Nixon completed a two-game rehab assignment Monday night with the Pawtucket Red Sox and could be in a Boston uniform Tuesday night when Boston begins a three-game series with the Royals.

"I'm flying out [Tuesday] and will meet the team [in Kansas City]," Nixon said after going 2-for-4 during Pawtucket's 4-0 victory over the Rochester Red Wings in an International League game. "[Boston manager] Terry [Francona] can decide what he wants to do, if he wants to activate me [Tuesday] or sit me down one more day and activate me on Wednesday.

"I don't make that decision."

Nixon, who batted leadoff as Pawtucket's designated hitter, singled to center field on an 0-1 pitch in the first inning against right-hander Henry Bonilla (6-6). With Justin Sherrod on third base and one out in the second inning, Rochester interim manager Rich Miller ordered Bonilla to issue Nixon an intentional walk -- the point being he didn't want Nixon to beat him.

Nixon lined a 1-0 pitch into the right-field seats for a solo home run in the fourth. He flied out to deep center in the sixth and was caught looking at a third strike on a 3-2 pitch from left-hander Ricky Barrett in the eighth.

Nixon was placed on Boston's disabled list July 27 with a left oblique strain. In his two games with Pawtucket, Nixon was 3-for-6 with two walks, a sacrifice fly, two RBIs, two runs and two strikeouts.

"I felt fine. ... My oblique muscle responded well, like I was anticipating it to," Nixon said. "I'm happy with it. I had a little bit more strength today and a little bit more legs after the trip.

Nixon was scheduled to fly out of Los Angeles at 5:30 a.m. PT on Saturday, but due to a canceled flight, he didn't arrive at his Boston apartment until 1:15 a.m. Sunday.

One of Nixon's concerns when he began the rehab was how the layoff would affect his timing. In a sense, that concern was erased beyond a shadow of a doubt.

"Obviously anybody who's on the DL for whether it's 15 days or two months, when you're a position player, the one thing you want to make sure of is you have your legs under you and, obviously, your timing at the plate," he said. "I felt very well at the plate and was comfortable doing things I want to do in the batter's box before the ball gets there, and [then] putting the bat on the ball.

"The whole basic thing you go through as a hitter [involves] loading up and basically trying to see the ball and hit the ball, have good at-bats, be aggressive up there but also be smart and swing at your pitches."

Nixon didn't have a chance to swing at even one pitch in the second. After Sherrod reached on a leadoff double and advanced to third on Luis Figueroa's long fly ball to right, Miller -- whose team began play two games behind first-place Buffalo in the North Division -- ordered Bonilla to issue an intentional walk.

The move drew a loud chorus of boos from a season-high crowd of 11,678 that also was the second-largest crowd in franchise history.

Nixon, for his part, took everything in stride.

"That's baseball," he said. "They're trying to win over there, too. Just because I'm down here rehabbing doesn't mean that, in certain situations, if they need to pitch to me or not, they won't do what they think they should do. That's the game of baseball.

"It didn't bother me one bit. I knew I was going to get my at-bats tonight."

PawSox manager Ron Johnson, who was ecstatic over Nixon's performance, wasn't about to second-guess Miller over what at the time appeared to be a dubious move since it came so early in the game.

"Obviously, the key with somebody like Trot is they come in and they're healthy and they do their thing -- and he looks really good," Johnson said. "That only makes us better in the big leagues.

"As for the [intentional walk], everybody looks at it differently. It was funny because Rich Miller was laughing over there. Rich Miller's a good man and everybody runs their ballclub a certain way. I wouldn't say anything negative about how they do it.

"Then, [Nixon] came up the next time and smoked the ball out of the park, so it kind of makes [Miller] look like a smart guy."

Nixon, for his part, didn't have any "smart" remarks regarding his home run being interpreted as a measure of revenge.

"I put a good swing on it and it got up and went out," he said. "But to me it's more important having a good swing and having a good response from my oblique muscle."

All things being equal, Nixon will be looking for some good swings in a Boston uniform.

Mike Scandura is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.