Sunday, January 16, 2011

Axford of Canisius Now Brewers' Closer

This has nothing to do with MAAC basketball except that it comes from good friend Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, that publication's standout baseball writer who previously covered Western New York college basketball including conference members Niagara and Canisius.

In his Sunday "Inside Baseball" column, Harrington reminds us that all-time saves' leader Trevor Hoffman's recent retirment means that John Axford heads to spring training as the unquestioned closer for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Axford played college baseball at Canisius. He emerged last season when Hoffman struggled and finished 8-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 24 saves in 27 chances. Axford voluntarily stepped aside for a late-season save opportunity so that Hoffman could step in and get career save No. 600.

"He's a fantastic teammate, a great person and in all honesty the things I'll remember (about Hoffman) most are the things that happen off the field," Axford told recently.

"He treats you fantastically. He took the bullpen out to dinner when we were on the road, and he invited us over to his home when we were in Milwaukee. He treated you like a friend, and respected you like a friend ... I just sat there and tried to soak up his 18 years of wisdom."

Axford spent three college seasons at Notre Dame before transferring to Canisius. He pitched for the Golden Griffins in 2006 and had 76 strikeouts in 70 innings there. He was originally signed as a free agent by the New York Yankees after he went undrafted in 2006, released by the Yanks after the 2007 season and, then, signed by the Brewers early in spring training of the 2008 season.

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