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03/28/08 8:15 PM ET

Nixon accepts Triple-A assignment

D-backs send veteran to Tucson after late spring decision

PHOENIX -- Trot Nixon has decided to accept his assignment and will begin the year with Triple-A Tucson.

"I want to play," Nixon said. "I have another opportunity for an opt-out in the middle of the season, but I'm not focused on that. My focus is on staying healthy and performing on the field."

The longtime Red Sox outfielder was signed to a Minor League contract just prior to the start of Spring Training and immediately embarked on a crash course to learn how to play first base.

An injury to catcher Miguel Montero and the fact that infielder Chad Tracy was not ready for the start of the season boosted Nixon's chances of making the team, but in a decision that went down to Thursday, the club decided to go with outfielder Alex Romero instead.

"Alex Romero had a fantastic spring, and I'm very happy for him and I wish him all the best," Nixon said. "I wish all these guys the best. I hope to be back here, but I'm not worried about that right now, I'm worried about what I can do to help the Tucson team right now and continue to get better myself."

The 33-year-old Nixon is a career .275 hitter with 136 career homers and 555 RBIs. Tucson opens its season on Thursday.

D-backs farm director A.J. Hinch said Nixon will play left field and first base as well as serve as the designated hitter against American League team affiliates.

"I'm just going to play the game hard, play it the right way," Nixon said. "I'm not going down there to get a suntan; I'm going there to win ballgames."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.