MILWAUKEE -- John Axford was back in Brewers camp Thursday after suffering a bout of food poisoning. It was about the only thing that's gone wrong for the reliever in the past calendar year.The former independent league pitcher and part-time bartender started last season at Triple-A Nashville but eventually earned a shot to take over from legend Trevor Hoffman as Milwaukee's closer. Axford's handlebar mustache earned him instant notoriety, and he cemented his fan-favorite status by converting 24 of 27 save chances. John and wife Nicole moved during the offseason into a new home near Hamilton, Ontario, where Axford stayed busy shoveling snow and communicating with more than 6,400 Twitter followers who hang on his every 140-character thought. Now Nicole is pregnant with the couple's first child, due in June, and Axford is staring at his first full season in the Major Leagues. So, yes, Axford has reason to wear a smile under that well-known mustache. "That mustache is probably the best thing he ever did," cracked bullpen mate LaTroy Hawkins. "But it's really about that right arm. He's gifted."
Position analysis• Manager
• Second base