2-year-old's recovery, 1st pitch 'incredible'
Jameson Axford suffered snake bite during Spring Training
DENVER -- It was like Opening Day all over again -- only better -- for Rockies closer John Axford on Friday.
When the Rockies started their season in Chicago, his mind was with his 2-year-old son, Jameson, who was struggling to recover from two rattlesnake bites on his foot suffered during Spring Training in Arizona. Doctors called it the worst bite they'd seen, and Jameson has been fighting to heal ever since, dealing with an array of medical procedures to recover damaged tissue, muscle and skin.
Axford took family leave later in April when Jameson was transferred to Denver, where he could receive the best available treatment and have the whole family together.
On Friday, they celebrated, as Jameson and his big brother JB, 3, came onto the field for the first pitch ceremony, with Jameson and his mom, Nicole, throwing to his dad and brother from a wheel chair. JB retrieved Jameson's pitch and relayed it to their dad.
"My son hasn't been at a baseball game since the day he was bit, March 25th," Axford said before the game. "It's going to be great. To see my son at a game is going to make me smile, but to be able to see the smile on his face -- just the other day we got their uniforms in, so we got their pants and jerseys, 'Just like daddy,' as they said."
Jameson has been at the hospital for procedures twice a week since coming to Denver in April, and he is expected to begin skin graft procedures next week.
"He's still fighting for mobility and to get things back to normal," Axford said. "Things keep progressing, but at the same time we keep finding out that things could be longer and longer. Weeks, months, could be years. It's just a question of how things heal.
"It is incredible how well a 2-year-old can handle this and deal with it. I don't think I'd be able to do it. And I'm 32."
Jameson chose to throw out the first pitch right-handed. He's been throwing from both sides, and Axford thought Jameson was looking like a lefty, but he threw 'just like daddy' when he took the field Friday.
Jameson's ability to roll with the punches is no surprise for the son of a closer.
"It's kind of funny to say about a kid who's going to be three in June, but he's pretty laid back," Axford said. "He doesn't take things too high, and he doesn't take things too low, which is why he's been so good at this. He's been taking it all in stride, the entire thing.
"I went into the OR with him Thursday, our off-day. He was happy, he was talking to the doctor. He was hanging out and laughing with the nurses. That's what he's become accustomed to. He's a tough little kid. As a father, it's great to see, but at the same time it's really tough, too."
After six weeks of bringing his son's situation to the park every day, Axford and his family took a huge step toward normalcy by bringing Jameson and JB to the game, trading hospital gowns for purple pinstripes.
"Just being at a baseball game together is huge for both of them," Axford said of his two sons.