Nix, 25, is a career .241 Major League hitter with 28 home runs, 112 RBIs and 112 runs scored in 240 games with the Rangers over the past four seasons. But his progress has been slowed by injuries to both shoulders, both the result of Nix's all-out style in the outfield.
He ran into a wall in mid-2004 and played the second half of that season and the first half of 2005 with pain in his right shoulder. Then, in July 2005, he injured his left shoulder while making a diving catch. While on the disabled list with the that injury, Nix had surgery to finally repair his right labrum. Finally, this past November, he underwent surgery to repair the left shoulder.
"I played injured in the Majors for a long time," Nix said. "Now, it's about unlearning some habits that were formed because of the injuries. I've stayed persistent through the process, and it hasn't been easy, but I'm looking forward to continuing things and moving on."
Nix, who started the year with the Rangers before being demoted, was hitting .269 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs in 77 games with that team's top affiliate at the time of the trade. He stayed hot at Nashville, hitting .412 (28-for-68) with 13 RBIs in 18 games. Nix led the Pacific Coast League with 54 total bases in August, and 13 of his 28 hits went for extra bases.
Six players, three spots: How in the world is Brewers manager Ned Yost going to find playing time for six outfielders? Don't ask.
"You guys think I've got a written plan for how many times these guys are going to play," Yost barked at reporters on Saturday. "[Nix] is going to play when he's going to play."
Nix joined a crowd that includes Brady Clark, Gabe Gross, Corey Hart, Geoff Jenkins and Kevin Mench. Yost has already committed to playing Hart nearly every day in right field, and he also wants to get a look at Gross. Mench has been adjusting to the move to the National League, and Clark and Jenkins have seen diminished playing time.
Pressed on the issue, Yost admitted he has thought about how he can keep all of those players happy, but said, "I know what I think I'm going to do, but if I tell you guys, all of a sudden it becomes written in stone. That's not the way it is."
Mench, Clark and Hart were the starters from left to right field on Saturday against Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez. Nix is considered a plus-defender and could see action as a late-innings defensive sub or as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.
"He's not Juan Pierre," Yost said, "but he can run a little bit."
No Tony: Some wondered why the team would call on Nix and not Tony Gwynn, Jr., another left-handed-hitting center-field prospect with decent speed. Gwynn went 7-for-15 during a brief stint with the Brewers just after the All-Star break.
It came down to Nix being hot and Gwynn being stuck in a slump. Entering Saturday's action, Gwynn was batting .161 (5-for-31) since heading back to Nashville. He snapped a season-worst 0-for-16 drought with an eighth-inning single on Friday.
"We thought it would be better for Tony to stay and get swinging it good," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said.
Gwynn is not the first player to slump after being demoted from the Majors.
"They did so well here, and they go down and want to carry on what they did up here," Yost said. "They might press a little bit."
It's different for every player, said Yost, who pointed to the cases of Zach Jackson and Carlos Villanueva. Both enjoyed some degree of success in a Brewers rotation that was missing Ben Sheets and Tomo Ohka, and both were returned to Nashville. Villanueva is 5-0 with a 3.20 ERA in seven starts since his demotion, while Jackson went 0-3 with an 8.22 ERA in his first four starts back before winning a complete-game effort on Wednesday.
In the Minors: Brewers catching prospect Angel Salome underwent surgery to repair a dislocated ankle he suffered sliding into second base at Class A West Virginia earlier this week. The team also lost infielder Hector Bernal, signed this year as an undrafted free agent, to a broken left leg that required surgery. ... Right-hander Mark Rogers, the team's first-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, pitched two innings in his third appearance for the rookie Arizona Brewers on Friday and is expected to return to Class A Brevard County. Rogers was in Arizona recovering from shoulder soreness.
On deck: The Brewers conclude their four-game series against the Astros on Sunday, when Doug Davis goes for his fifth straight win. Roger Clemens will start for Houston.