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Axford taking family leave to care for son

DENVER -- Rockies reliever John Axford is taking family leave from the Rockies to help his 2-year-old son, Jameson, deal with a medical emergency and surgery following a rattlesnake bite that occurred toward the end of Spring Training in Arizona. Jameson has already had surgery, but the results were more complicated than Axford anticipated.

"On Opening Day, my son had surgery for the first time on his foot," Axford said before Sunday's series finale with the Cubs. "We found out some tougher news than we were expecting. The necrotic tissue on his foot ended up being worse than we thought. There was a lot of infection in there, and it was a staph infection. The tissue they thought was going to be good turned out to not be great.

"The necrotic tissue was all the way down to the base. They had to cut all the tissue out to the bone and tendon. And they've continued the process there to clean up his foot and make things as comfortable as possible down there. But there's nothing else they can do for him down there."

Axford, his wife and their two sons were staying in a house north of Scottsdale when Jameson had what doctors told Axford was "the worst rattlesnake bite they'd seen in the area." Axford praised the care Jameson received in Arizona, but all the advice they and others gave him was that for the next step, the best place to treat Jameson happened to be in Denver. Axford is taking time away from the club to arrange the logistics and stay on top of the situation.

"That's why this process is ongoing, and I'm trying to figure out as much information as I can and go through all the processes and paper work and try to get him here as soon as possible," Axford said. "I need to get my mind off baseball and focus on my family and make sure they get here safely."

Doctors in Denver will perform a "muscle flap" procedure, as Axford explained, and do some skin grafting. Jameson will travel to Denver on Monday on a medical emergency flight so he can have doctors and nurses tending to him on the flight.

"We still have a long road, a long process to go," Axford said. "But at least I'll be able to be closer to him.

"He's going to be 3 this June. Anybody who has kids, you get to see your toddler running around, it's an amazing thing to see. But when your son has been laying in a bed for more than two weeks and can't move and he probably won't be able to walk for another couple of months, what you want is just for him to walk. That's what they're trying to do for him."

Axford found a sympathetic ear in manager Walt Weiss, whose son Brody suffered from E.coli poisoning years ago, developed a blood disease, and was in critical condition for a couple of weeks with Weiss away from his team and at his son's bedside.

"I shared the short version of my story with him the other day in Milwaukee," Weiss said. "I was certainly able to empathize with him in sharing that story. That doesn't make it any easier for Johnny, but I think it helps when you can share a similar experience with him."

Axford's wife, Nicole, has been at Jameson's side throughout the ordeal, and the two are hopeful that Jameson is young enough to erase the experience from his memory as he grows up.

"He'll have in incredible scar on his foot to show people, and he'll have the story from us," Axford said. "It was fortunate that it was in the area that it was, on his foot, not somewhere else on his body, and he had the great medical care that he's had with the doctors and nurses and surgeons."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to
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