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Axford gets firsthand look at first-class Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Six weeks into his tenure, the newest Cardinal still hasn't quite cracked the secret to the franchise's success. But John Axford believes there is something about simply putting on a Cards uniform that produces excellence.

"It's a storied franchise, and I think that gets ingrained in their players coming through," Axford said. "From the other side, you always wondered how and why every guy coming in from the 'pen was throwing 98 [mph] and hitting their spots and doing it in a professional manner, under control and always collected out there on the mound. Being on the other side, it was frustrating.

"Now that I'm here, getting to know these guys and knowing their personalities, there seems to be something that is already instilled in them. They have this sense that they're playing for the Cardinals, and that's something bigger than themselves. You don't come into this clubhouse as an individual, you come in here as a team. The guys who have been here before you make sure you're aware of that. I think that's something that's really special to this organization."

Axford made three scoreless appearances for the Brewers against the Cards in the 2011 National League Championship Series, but he was traded to St. Louis in August of this season for another hard-throwing right-handed reliever, Michael Blazek. Milwaukee was willing to trade Axford within the division because the club intended to nontender him after the season; Axford is earning $5 million and will be arbitration-eligible over the winter.

Not surprisingly, Axford has yet to discuss his status with Cardinals officials.

"I definitely want to wait until the offseason," Axford said. "Right now, I just want to help this ballclub get to the World Series and win the World Series, any way I can."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy.
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