The Nationals optioned infielder Brian Bixler to Class AAA Syracuse following today’s 9-8 loss to the Atlanta Braves, most likely clearing the way for Jerry Hairston to rejoin the club after being sent to the 15-day disabled list on July 1 with a broken bone in his right wrist.

Hairston, also an infielder, was on a rehab assignment with Class AA Harrisburg, and there was speculation he could be back with Washington when it begins its three-game series at Houston on Monday. Hairston reportedly was on his way to Houston tonight.

Hairston broke the bone on June 29 when Angels starter Dan Haren drilled him in the wrist with a 91-mph fastball. Team doctors expected him to miss two weeks to a month, but Hairston said at the time he thought he could be back sooner.

Bixler, meantime, hit .196 with a double and one RBI and four steals and a walk in 45 games.