Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  By STAN McNEAL  |  Last updated 9/13/13
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- When the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline passed and John Axford had not been moved, he thought he would remain with the Brewers for the rest of the season. "I was expecting (a trade) around the All-Star break or the deadline," Axford said. "A lot of people around baseball thought it was going to happen. When it didn't, I went OK, I guess I'm going to be here for the last couple of months." So imagine his surprise two nights before the Sept. 1 deadline. As he was finishing buttoning his shirt and about to get on the team bus following the last game of a series at Pittsburgh, Axford was called in to see manager Ron Roenicke, pitching coach Rick Kranitz and special assistant Craig Counsell. "I knew," Axford said. "Before they said anything, I said, 'Really? It's happening now?'" "Yes, Ax," he was told. "You've just been traded to the Cardinals." His response: "The Cardinals, wow. I couldn't believe I was traded to a division rival. But going to a first-place team was fantastic." As it turned out, Axford could not have picked a better destination and not only because of the playoff possibilities. He has close friends who live in St. Louis who would always show him a good time when he visited with the Brewers. He's tried more restaurants and visited more drinking establishments than many locals. "This was a city that I really enjoyed," he says. "Some of my best friends live here and there is a familiarity with the city. It's the city I had the most knowledge about other than Milwaukee. It also was a team I was familiar with from playing against so much. It actually was a perfect opportunity." Axford, who had lost his job as the Brewers' closer early in the season, found another reason to be glad to land with the Cardinals in his first meeting with his new coaching staff. The Cardinals gave him some pitching advice -- the specifics of which he declined to discuss -- that he says immediately helped his performance. "When a team has been looking at you for five years, trying to kill you every single time you're out there on the mound, they pick up on every little detail they can -- what you may be showing, or tipping, or what you're doing different," Axford said. "That's been a great thing coming here. It's been a process working on a couple of small things. The more I get out there on the mound, the better it feels. The last few outings I have been feeling great, especially the last two." In those last two one-inning stints, Axford has allowed one hit in each and struck out five. In his six outings with the Cardinals before Friday night's game against Seattle, Axford had been scored on in two, both times giving up one run. While he still ranks no better than fifth in the bullpen pecking order, Axford has provided the veteran arm and flexibility the Cardinals were seeking. The 30-year-old Canadian's stay in St. Louis might not last long, though. Axford will be arbitration-eligible for the second time and figures to earn a raise from his 5 million salary. The Cardinals aren't likely to pay close to that, considering the number of strong, young arms already on the roster. Plus, Jason Motte will be due 7 million as he comes back from Tommy John surgery. "I really have no idea and I'm not looking at it too much right now," Axford said. "I'm going to enjoy my time in St. Louis as I have been, enjoy this team and enjoy this run at the NL Central. Hopefully we can win a division, get into the playoffs and win a World Series. That's what Im looking forward to right now." With that kind of mindset, no wonder he's fit in so well. You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne


USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Mike Shula vs. Wade Phillips: The best story of Super Bowl 50

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

USMNT are big favorites against Canada

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in the NHL playoff hunt

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Johnny Manziel dropped by agent

Michael Irvin: Cowboys should save Manziel

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

The merits of trading Blake Griffin to the Hornets

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

Could the Marlins contend in 2016?

Report: Browns to cut Manziel in March

Browns rip Manziel in statement

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker