John Axford: Renaissance man

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You might know John Axford as the reliever the Athletics signed to a two-year, $10 million contract in December. Or, more recently, you might know him for his uncanny accuracy in predicting Oscar winners. Axford graduated with a bachelor’s degree in film and television from Notre Dame, so his knowledge of the subject is not surprising. You might also know him for his luxurious facial hair.

In a profile of Axford for the San Francisco Chronicle, Susan Slusser reveals a pitcher who is actually quite the intellectual, even beyond film and TV. Slusser’s article is a must-read, especially if you enjoy learning what makes athletes tick when they’re not on the baseball diamond.

Axford writes short stories, which he would like to translate into screenplays. He dabbles in photography, visits museums, and enjoys artwork. “And he’s a music guy, and a foodie, also,” closer Sean Doolittle added.

“Art is something I’m definitely interested in. I never studied it, I like the open interpretation of it — same as film, for me,” Axford said. “Where some people don’t like open-ended films, that’s some of my favorites, so I can chew on it, think about it for a while, maybe discuss it with people, interpret it a different way, maybe one day have different emotions.

“I like that about art: When I go into it, I don’t have anything in particular I’m looking for.”

Some recent baseball headlines have included a Hall of Fame catcher calling for more headshots, a Hall of Fame pitcher tearing down current players and fans, and a Hall of Fame candidate going on the radio to offer some ill-advised political opinions. Axford, by comparison, is a breath of fresh air.

Tyler Glasnow scheduled to rejoin Rays’ rotation

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow is scheduled to rejoin the rotation at Cleveland after missing nearly 14 months because of Tommy John surgery.

The Rays’ Opening Day starter last year hasn’t pitched this season after undergoing the procedure on Aug. 4, 2021.

“I think we’re pretty confident he’ll be starting for us,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said before the game with Toronto. “This is the first time he’s thrown pain-free in quite some time, so he’s encouraged by it.”

The 6-foot-8 right-hander went 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts last year and is a key addition as the Rays near a wild-card spot.

“Compared to the past, like, three years it feels way better as far as postday and the week leading into starts and stuff,” Glasnow said. “It’s good to have an UCL, you know.”

Cash said Glasnow will throw around 45 pitches in his initial outing, which should allow him to go two or three innings.

“Two innings of Glasnow is still a huge plus for our team,” Cash said. “Like to get three innings. If we do, great. If we don’t, that’s fine, too.”

Glasnow allowed one run, one hit, four walks and had 14 strikeouts over seven innings in four starts with Triple-A Durham.

“I’m really excited,” Glasnow said. “I’m approaching it like normal, staying on routine. Feels normal.”

Glasnow signed a two-year, $30.35 million contract that will delay the start of his free agency by one year last month. He’s making $5.1 million this year and will get $5.35 million next season and $25 million in 2024, which is the first year he would have been eligible for free agency.