The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently in third place in the National League Central, but their 64-57 record is just 2.5 games back of first place. With about six weeks left in the MLB regular season, they made a waiver claim and successfully acquired reliever John Axford from the Cleveland Indians to bolster their bullpen. Axford is known for having a sense of humor, and immediately got laughs out of his new teammates by arriving dressed as an actual pirate.
Ahoy to you, good sir. That facial hair wasn’t specifically grown for this costume, but man did it fit in perfectly.
Talk about making a good first impression. His veteran presence and sense of humor will help players stay loose during a tight pennant race between the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh.
The right-handed reliever threw 43.2 innings in 49 appearances this season for the Indians, posting a 3.92 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 51 strikeouts while converting 10 of 13 save opportunities.
Pittsburgh’s bullpen has gone through some tough times this season. Jason Grilli was originally the closer, but his ineffectiveness (4.87 ERA in 20.1 IP) led to being removed from that role in favor of Mark Melancon. Grilli has since moved on to the Los Angeles Angels, leaving manager Clint Hurdle without a solid setup man for his current closer. Now he has that in Axford, along with a new team comedian.
This looks to be a sound baseball move for the Pirates moving forward, but we all get a nice chuckle out of it, as well. Pittsburgh hopes they’ll keep laughing at Axford’s antics while he throws zeros on the board and they clinch their second consecutive postseason berth.