Axford hopes to help Canada qualify for Olympics

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John Axford will be hoping to add Olympian to his baseball resume.

The Port Dover native and former Major League Baseball pitcher was named by Baseball Canada to its 25-man roster for the upcoming World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Baseball America qualifier scheduled from May 31 to June 5 in Florida.

The winner of the eight-team tournament will earn a berth at the 2021 Summer Olympic Games scheduled to take place from July 23 to Aug. 8 in Tokyo.

Teams finishing second and third will go to Mexico for the WBSC final qualifier where the last Olympic spot will be earned.

Playing in Group B for the qualifier, Canada will face Columbia, Cuba and Venezuela in preliminary play. The team is currently in Florida for a brief training camp where it is playing Team USA.

Axford threw a scoreless inning on May 26 in an exhibition game that also saw former Brantford Red Sox player Chris Leroux pitch for Canada.

Axford, 38, last played in the major leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018. He also pitched with the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays, posting a 38-34 record in MLB with a 3.83 earned run average.

A reliever, Axford has 144 career saves. He led the National League in saves in 2011 and won the Rolaids Relief Man Award. His 46 saves that year stand as the record for Milwaukee relievers.

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