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Blue Jays sign former Canisius pitcher Axford to minor-league deal

Former Canisius College pitcher John Axford, who has spent most of the last eight years in the big leagues, has signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that includes an invitation to the team's major-league camp.

The contract means Axford could pitch for the Buffalo Bisons this season if he does not make the Blue Jays' major-league roster.

Axford, 34, is a native of Simcoe, Ont., who threw for the Griffs in 2006 on the road back from Tommy John surgery after pitching three years at Notre Dame.  He was 3-8 with a 5.01 earned-run average in 14 starts for Canisius that season but was scouted heavily and signed by the New York Yankees for 2007.

See Axford's career statistics here

Axford made his major-league debut for Milwaukee during a 2009 game in Wrigley Field — becoming the first ex-Canisius player to make the bigs since 1899. He became the Brewers' closer in 2010 and saved 105 games for them the next three seasons, including 46 in 2011 as Milwaukee came within two wins of making the World Series.

Big league ascent is a heady brew for Axford

Axford was on the Cardinals' 2013 National League championship team and pitched two games in the World Series against Boston. He has also pitched for Cleveland, Colorado, Pittsburgh and Oakland.  He has made 493 appearances in the big leagues, posting a 34-33 record with a 3.71 ERA and 144 saves. Last year, he was 0-1, 6.43 in 22 games for the Athletics.

Cardinals’ bullpen has some WNY ties

Pitchers and catchers report tor their first workouts at Blue Jays spring camp on Wednesday in Dunedin, Fla. Full squad workouts open there on Feb. 19.

Axford is a noted movie aficionado who produced a film for the 2015 Hamilton (Ont.) Film Festival. He has wowed readers with his uncanny Academy Award picks and even served on a prediction panel for the Oscars one year for ABC's "Good Morning America"

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