WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson decided to start Brian Bixler in center field for Monday's 4-1 win over the D-backs because he wanted to get Bixler some playing time and give Rick Ankiel a day off.
An infielder by trade, Bixler is not seeing any time at shortstop or second base, because Johnson wants Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa to know each other up the middle.
Ankiel has been in the lineup every day and is playing a solid center field. In his past four games, including a pinch-hit appearance Monday, Ankiel is 2-for-15. Bixler went 1-for-4 against the D-backs and is hitting 12-for-62 (.193) with two RBIs on the season.
"I look at Bixler as a middle infielder, a shortstop," Johnson said. "I put him in the outfield for defense and more speed. And I said, 'I'll give Ankiel a blow and give Bixler some at-bats, just to give him a chance to play.'"