Updated: April 9, 2013, 10:42 AM ET
John Axford has been replaced in the closer role by the Milwaukee Brewers, until he can figure out his early-season problems, by Jim Henderson, who converted his first save opportunity Monday against the Chicago Cubs.
Axford has allowed four home runs this season and has a 20.25 ERA in three outings. He has allowed eight hits and six runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched.
It is the second consecutive season that Axford has been lifted from the ninth-inning role because of struggles. He was removed as closer last July but asked to be reinstated as closer in August and converted 17 of his final 18 save opportunities.
“I told [Axford] that I want him to be our closer,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told reporters. “How we think is the best way to get him back in that role is pretty much what we did with him last year — put him back in wherever it’s going to be: sixth [inning], seventh, maybe eighth, and let him get his stuff back.
“Once he gets his stuff back, we’d like him back in that role.”
On Monday, Henderson entered the game in the ninth inning vs. the Cubs after reliever Brandon Kintzler allowed hits to all three Cubs batters he faced. Henderson allowed a hit to the first batter he faced, Luis Valbuena, but pitched pitched around an error and struck out two batters to record his first save as the Brewers held on for a 7-4 victory.
Henderson told reporters Monday that he believes Axford will eventually return as the team’s closer.
“He’s a great pitcher, and just watching his outing, his stuff is still great. Similar to K-Rod [Francisco Rodriguez] last year, the stuff is still there. He just needs to put it together consistently,” he told reporters.
This article was originally posted on ESPN.com