Scenes from Spring Training: My annual Chief Wahoo observation

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That block C is on the wall outside of the front door of the Indians’ complex here in Goodyear.  Note: it’s not a Chief Wahoo.

Indeed, you have to look pretty hard to find a Chief Wahoo around here. There’s a picture of the 1995 ALCS celebration in the lobby, and there are Wahoos on those caps.  Fans who show up here for games wear the Chief.  But there is a conspicuous absence of Chief Wahoo on team property, on team employees’ clothes and that sort of thing.

The best explanation I’ve heard for that is that here in the southwest there is a much larger Indian population than there is back in Ohio and that not putting up a big racist, comically-exaggerated red-faced logo of an Indian is simply a matter of common courtesy.

My own theory — which I liked better a couple of years ago than I do now — was that the team itself was making a conscious effort to downplay Chief Wahoo, and that they were starting a slow effort of phasing him out here at the spring training complex. I like it as a theory less now because it doesn’t seem to, you know, be happening.

I know I talk about this once a year whether I need to or not — and I know it’s going to lead to the same get-us-nowhere arguments in the comments — but even after all of these years I can’t get over the fact that a Major League team still uses a blatant racist caricature as an official logo. And that so many fans tolerate it.

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Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.