nice feature today on Brewers closing pitcher John Axford. The article touches on Axford's mustache, the ups and downs he encountered throughout his minor league career, his emergence last May as a rookie thrust into the closer's role, and the time he spent working with Trevor Hoffman. Axford also says that he has no plans to move to the states; he and his wife enjoy spending time with family during the offseason.
Axford certainly provides a remarkable story. After a rough spring in 2009 he thought he saw the writing on the wall that his career may nearly be over. Yet Axford persevered. He adjusted his delivery upon advice from a coach, kept working hard, and found himself called up to Milwaukee in September of '09. Less than a year later he stepped into the shoes of a future Hall of Famer and proceeded to save 24 games in 27 attempts with a 2.48 ERA. Axford even seemed to fit in with the old school style of former Brewers manager Ken Macha, who frequently called on Axford to pitch more than the requisite final three outs of the game. Axford's four and five out saves remind fans of a bygone era, linking him to closers of the 70s and 80s such as the great Rollie Fingers (and not just for the mustache!).
Previously known for his high walk-rate, Axford seems to have fixed this problem after tweaking his delivery in '09. The closer's job is Axford's to lose in 2011. If he continues to pitch like he did in 2010, Brewers fans should enjoy watching their "throwbacker" close games and sport a mean 'stache for years to come.
Here's another article, from the Toronto Sun, describing Axford's first save of 2010 in May in Minnesota and his success against solid Canadian sluggers Justin Morneau and Joey Votto.