Getting a chance to start the Cactus League opener, while the projected rotation waits to enter the fray next weekend, Axelrod made it count as he tries to nail down a roster spot.
The right-hander, known more for his control and ability to dominate, was dominating nonetheless as he held a powerful Los Angeles Dodgers lineup to a single hit over three innings.
“It couldn’t get better than that first inning,” said Axelrod, who had two strikeouts in the opening inning, including one of Adrian Gonzalez. “I was happy with it, threw a lot of strikes, mixed it up pretty well, so I was very happy.”
At this point of the spring, Axelrod appears to be on the outside looking in at a roster spot. If John Danks isn’t ready to start the season on time, his chances of making the Opening Day roster improve, but if Danks is ready to go it gets more difficult.”
“We’re very deep, so my job is to be there if I’m needed, no matter what happens in spring or come the regular season,” Axelrod said. “I’m trying to make a point that I can pitch at that level and compete.”
The plan was for Axelrod to go just two innings, but he was so efficient with his pitches he went a third. He easily outdueled Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who gave up a run in each of his two innings of work.
“He’s one of the best pitchers we have,” catcher Tyler Flowers said of Axelrod. “His stuff might not be quite as electric and attract the attention of every fan in the stands, but as far as pitching he has a pretty good idea of what he’s doing and he can execute pretty much every pitch in the book, inside, outside, up, down. He’s a very good pitcher.”