By Bob Elliott PHOENIX -- The numbers on John Axford:
— 9,600 friends like his Facebook page.
— 28,555 follow him on twitter.
And roughly 5,000 Milwaukee Brewers fans voted to choose the 28-year-old social media expert’s entry music when he leaves the bullpen in left field at Miller Park.
Axford, who estimates his home town of Port Dover, Ont., has a population of 5,000, had an original list 15 songs, then five and a final three.
You’re ahead of me if you can humm or sing the three finalists in the name-that-theme contest: Rage Against the Machine’s Bulls on Parade, Audio Slave’s Cochise or Refused’s New Noise, the eventual winner.
“That song from the Clint Eastwood’s The Good and the Bad and Ugly had a lot of interest,” said Axford before his Brewers faced the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 4 of the best-of-five, National League division series at Chase Field.
Axford entered Game 1 to New Noise, of which there was plenty of — the old Milwaukee line when other stadia began cutting off beer sales at the end of the seventh, was that County Stadium gave fans a six-pack to go.
Axford set down the pulsing part of the Diamondbacks order on 14 pitches — Hall of Famer Whitey Ford’s perfect number for an ideal 1-2-3 innings: Aaron Hill flew out to deep right, Justin Upton struck out and Miguel Montero bounced to second.
“Toward the end of the season it was loud at our place,” Axford said, “The day we clinched against the Florida Marlins it was loud as hell.”
Signed by Brewers scout Jay Lapp of London in 2008, Axford has moved quicker though the Brewers than any former No. 1 pick.
“Maybe I’ll reflect in the off-season, I know this has happened quickly,” Axford said. “Guys ask if I’m going to be a bartender in the off-season.
“I know I’m getting a lot more attention in my homeland of Canada, so it’s a little bit different.”
Axford has the droppy handle bar moustache which likely outdangles former Brewers closer Rollie Fingers.
“I can go back home most of the time and go to the grocery store most of the time,” Axford said. “Obviously I don’t have a mustache generally or this long of hair, so I look a little bit different.
“Things are changing a little. You want to be here. You don’t want to play in the majors just to play, you want win, you want to win the World Series. When you get to that point obviously things are going out there on the national stage more. And a second national stage in Canada for me.”
Axford will be eligible for salary arbitration at the end of next year and his income will likely triple the $442,500 US he earns this season.
Like most bullpens, Axford and his pals Kameron Loe, Tim Dillard and Marco Estrada are a loose group.
“We’re all about the same age and have young kids,” said Axford, who partook in the Brewers bullpen pre-game workout Wednesday. Each day a reliever picks the pre-game drills. His day is Moustache Mondays.
Estrada led the drill ... as pitchers threw basketballs into centre field.
“We generally have footballs, Frisbees, whatever,” Axford said. “Guys think of something new, something different all the time. It’s part of our brotherhood.
“This team is different than anything I’ve ever experienced with a group of guys. We’re all so close.”
And they do handshakes.
“A lot of them started at triple-A Nashville,” Axford said. “Guts are a little bit more elaborate, now a whole bunch of props are involved. Things you can’t see, like Samurai swords or wooden boards. It’s just something to do to break the ice and keep things loose in the pen.”
Oh, yeah one other set of numbers on Axford:
He had 46 saves in 48 chances, including 41 straight, plus 1-for-1 in the post-season play.
And looking for more.