MILWAUKEE -- One year ago this week, the Brewers lured Gabe Kapler out of retirement. Now the team is hoping to find lightning in a bottle with another former Red Sox.
The team on Thursday announced it had come to terms with 34-year-old outfielder Trot Nixon, who agreed to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Nixon will get an opportunity to win a spot on the bench for the Brewers, who are in need of left-handed bats.
"When I talked to Trot a couple of days ago, I told him I hope he is next year's Gabe Kapler," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "He's a guy that still wants to play, still has that great work ethic.
"We think he's worth a shot. On a Minor League contract, it's a low-risk situation."
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.
Nixon did have Minor League success last season, batting .306 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs for the Diamondbacks' and Mets' Triple-A affiliates. Arizona traded him to New York for cash before an "out clause" kicked in that would have made Nixon a free agent.
The Brewers would love to see a resurgence from Nixon similar to the one enjoyed last season by Kapler, a Boston teammate from 2003-06. Kapler was a Minor League manager in 2007 but played a key role for the '08 Brewers before a shoulder injury ended his season, batting .301 in 96 games.
Kapler is now a free agent and the Brewers have shown little interest in bringing him back. The team has instead been searching for ways to infuse left-handed bats, especially since talks between the Brewers and Yankees involving switch-hitter Melky Cabrera have broken down.
"Trot is down in Florida at a baseball facility, working hard," Melvin said. "He's adjusted to being a part-time player, and we think he could be a good, veteran guy for our ballclub."
Nixon was one of two outfielders who agreed to terms on a Minor League contract Thursday. The other was former Pirates prospect Chris Duffy, who also received an invitation to big league camp.
Duffy is a .269 hitter in parts of three big league seasons with the Pirates, but he split last season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis while recovering from an August 2007 surgery on his left shoulder. Duffy, like Tony Gwynn Jr., who is on the 40-man roster and will also be competing for a backup outfield spot, is primarily a center fielder.
Nixon and Duffy make it nine non-roster players to get Spring Training invitations from the Brewers. The others are pitchers Joe Bateman, Chris Capuano, Lindsay Gulin, Sam Narron and Chris Narveson, first baseman Scott Thorman and outfielder Jason Bourgeois.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.