The last time John Axford took the mound in a baseball game was August 2nd, 2021. It was his first time pitching in the big leagues since 2018 and he was doing it with the Brewers once again. He previously had multiple seasons of success with them in the past as a closer and unusual circumstances united them together again. Unfortunately, he injuried his elbow in that outing.
Axford was brought back to the Brewers after multiple players were put on the COVID-19 injured list that season. With the bullpen depleted, David Stearns acquired Axford for cash in a trade with the Blue Jays. It cost the Brewers all of $1 to bring the Ax Man back to Milwaukee.
When Axford came out of the pen to take the mound that fateful day, it was quite the scene in Milwaukee. Despite the team losing by a considerable margin, fans were performing the "Ax Chop" just like they did back in his early playing days with the Crew.
On the mound, things did not go well. Axford was struggling with command and eventually called the trainer out onto the field. Later that year, he underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, the second time in his career that he had surgery on his elbow.
16 months after undergoing surgery, former Brewers reliever John Axford has indicated that his goal is to pitch once again. He has his sights set on pitching for Team Canada in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Axford posted a thread on Twitter indicating his progress made to date. In summary, he has started throwing off of the mound again. He also talks about the waves of this journey and recovering from elbow surgery at age 38-39. It's clear that this has been tough on him, yet his eyes are set on pitching competitively again.
Whether you are a fan of Axford or not, his story and career has the potential for a heartwarming conclusion. If he can stay the course, build his arm back up, and make it back to compete for Team Canada, and against the highest competition in the world no less, it would be a satisfying ending to what has been a great career in baseball.
The 2023 World Baseball Classic runs from March 8th through March 21st. Axford would play for Team Canada, which is in pool C along with the United States, Mexico, and Columbia. Those games will be played at Chase Field in Arizona.