At the annual Cleveland Indians Town Hall event, manager Terry Francona was in attendance to answer some questions from season ticket holders. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) was in attendance and is tweeting out some tidbits from the event.
Among the questions being asked was a query about what exactly newly acquired reliever John Axford’s role would be for the Tribe. While Tito said that the plan was for Axford to be the primary guy in a ninth-inning save situation, he’s not quite ready to give him the title of closer.
Axford had a stellar season with the Milwaukee Brewers as their closer in 2011, earning 46 saves with a 1.95 ERA, as the Brew Crew went to the NLCS that year, but had a major fall-off in 2012 as he saw his ERA shoot to 4.67. His struggles continued into 2013 and he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals where he regained some of his form. Axford attributed his resurgence to the Cardinals’ coaching staff and Yadier Molina, indicating that he was showing too much of the ball to hitters and had a tendency to tip his pitches.
Having Axford return to his 2011 form for the Indians this season will be key if Francona’s club wants to contend again like they did last year when they earned a trip to the Wild Card playoff game.