Macha not naming Axford as closer, yet
MILWAUKEE — With John Axford getting the call in the ninth inning of the Brewers’ 8-6 victory on Saturday, many began to assume it meant he was the team’s closer.
Not so fast, manager Ken Macha said in his postgame press conference.
“I’m not eliminating Trevor,” said Macha, referring to all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. “I want to give [Hoffman] a few more innings. But it’s going to be nice if we have coverage like that.”
Axford, a flame-throwing 27-year-old right-hander, is 2-for-2 in save opportunities on the season. Along with his save at the end of the 2009 season, Axford is a perfect 3-for-3 in his short big league career as a closer.
Though his career total is still 593 less than that of Hoffman, Axford doesn’t let the pressure of the situation get to him.
“It’s a tough situation to be in, I guess,” Axford said. “I don’t hold a flame to Trevor Hoffman. So I’m not thinking about that really. I’m just trying to get my job done.”
While Macha has been impressed by Axford’s recent performance out of the bullpen, he sees greater value in having several pitchers comfortable with pressure situations in the late innings.
“There’s no problem having a couple,” Macha said. “My last year in Oakland, we had six guys with saves. I’d like to get Trevor back. … The more guys you’re can bring in pressure situations and they’re able to get outs, that makes your bullpen that much stronger.
“I’d like to get [LaTroy] Hawkins back too. When all those pieces get back together, it starts to give you a lot of options. … I’m not selling any of those guys short.”
When asked about his bullpen in his morning session with the media, Macha said he hoped to get Hoffman in the game on Sunday. He did not, however, specify an inning in which that might happen.
But with the way Axford has pitched lately, Macha admitted after Saturday’s game that “it’s hard not to bring him in.”
“He has the stuff,” Macha said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter