Axford embracing the ‘Cardinal Way’

The color of his uniform was not the only change, but John Axford either could not put his finger on the difference between playing for the Brewers and playing for the Cardinals, or he didn’t want to say.

“It has been different, but it’s definitely good,” Axford said Tuesday afternoon, before his old team met his new one at Busch Stadium. “I think I like that, also, that you get a different change of scenery and get to experience things a little differently, when things are done a little bit differently. That’s all part of the experience, I guess.”

Asked to expound on how the Cardinals do things differently, Axford said, “I don’t know. There are some things you can just feel, and some things you can just tell. The way things are in the clubhouse, I guess it’s just an all-encompassing thing of sorts. You can just tell the way things are and the way things are different here compared to the Brewers.”

Axford has surrendered two earned runs in five appearances since the Aug. 30 trade that sent him from the Brewers to the Cardinals for another right-handed reliever, Michael Blazek.

Axford knew he was a candidate to be non-tendered by the Brewers after the season. With that in mind, was he a good candidate for a change of scenery?

“I might have been,” Axford said. “It seemed like Milwaukee was coming to an end for me, and it was time to carry on and go somewhere else and start new once again. Milwaukee gave me a huge opportunity, the Brewers gave me a huge opportunity, and I took advantage of it the best I could, and did a great job the best I could for as long as I could. I guess, over the last couple of seasons, things haven’t worked out quite as well, and maybe what’s needed as another change.”

He has had an interesting couple of weeks with the Cardinals. Axford missed his first game with the Cardinals because of travel issues at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, including weather and a fire on the runway, and he was ejected in his fourth outing after hitting the Pirates’ Tony Sanchez with a high and tight fastball. Both teams had been warned by the home plate umpire earlier in the game.

Axford, who said he’d never been ejected at any level, is still awaiting word from Major League Baseball about whether he will be fined.

“I’m sure if I just brushed a jersey or got someone on the thigh, it would have been no big deal,” Axford said. “But because it was 96 [mph] and the shoulder, it’s a little different story.”

His new team enters its series against the Brewers on a hot streak. The Cardinals swept the second-place Pirates over the weekend and entered play Tuesday with a one-game lead in the National League Central.

“It was huge,” Axford said. “A lot of fun, a lot of energy here. The team is excited. You can get a sense of that just being in the clubhouse — you don’t even have to talk a lot or discuss it, you can just feel it. That’s a great thing to have around you right now. It’s fantastic.”

The biggest adjustment has been that uniform color. Besides his stint with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, Axford had mostly worn blue, beginning with his days at Notre Dame.

“Even back in college, everything was navy blue,” Axford said. “But it’s been good. It’s a good transition so far.”

Of facing the Brewers, he said, “I am definitely looking forward to getting in there. It will be fun. I’m sure it will be odd from both sides, so we’ll see how it goes.”

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