NEW YORK -- Nationals outfielder Corey Brown, called up from Triple-A Syracuse last Tuesday, did not travel with the team to New York because of a knee infection. It's not known how the infection came about.

While the team was packing their bags for a four-game series against the Mets that began Monday, manager Davey Johnson was informed of the seriousness of Brown's problem. The team doctors then suggested to Johnson that Brown would be better off if he didn't travel.

Johnson is hoping that Brown can return to action later during the four-game series against the Mets.

"The doctors felt that rather than go on the road trip, maybe have him see a doctor," Johnson said. "Instead of getting better, it could get worse. I think there was a concern that it could turn into a staph infection. We just kept him in Washington to be on the safe side. Hopefully today or tomorrow, he could be all right and rejoin the club."

Since his promotion, Brown has been hitless in three at-bats for Washington.

Bixler, Lombardozzi in Nationals' lineup

NEW YORK -- Manager Davey Johnson decided to sit his regular middle infielders -- shortstop Ian Desmond and second baseman Danny Espinosa -- on Monday because they have not been successful against Mets right-hander R.A. Dickey during their careers.

Desmond is 2-for-15 (.133), while Espinosa is hitless in 11 at-bats against the knuckleballer. Johnson started Brian Bixler at short, while Steve Lombardozzi saw action at second.

Johnson already said Lombardozzi would receive starts at second and short since the team is looking for a top-of-the-order hitter and hoping that Lombardozzi can solve that problem.

Bixler, on the other hand, is a different story. Johnson wanted Bixler to know that he didn't forget that he was a middle infielder. Since Johnson became the manager in late June, Bixler has seen most of his action as a defensive replacement in the outfield.

"I still want Bixler to think like a middle infielder, not a defensive replacement in the outfield or a fourth outfielder," Johnson said. "I have confidence for him to go out there [at shortstop]."