Brawl between Canada, Mexico in '13 WBC still sticks with Axford

Brawl between Canada, Mexico in '13 WBC still sticks with Axford

MESA, Ariz. — John Axford feels he’s in good shape for his upcoming stint with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.

Nothing could have prepared the A’s reliever for his last WBC experience in 2013.

Axford was warming up in the bullpen at Chase Field when a huge brawl broke out in the late innings of a first-round game between Canada and Mexico. Tensions escalated after a Canadian hitter dropped down a bunt single in the top of the ninth with Canada already leading 9-3.

When Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon, then an A’s minor leaguer, retaliated by hitting Rene Tosoni in the back with a pitch, both benches emptied and multiple fights broke out.

Axford was loosening in the ‘pen when “all hell broke loose.”

“I was the last one running out from the ‘pen,” he said. “I got in there and fists were already flying everywhere, people were getting punched in the face. So I didn’t know what to do. I was on the outskirts.

“If you watch a video you can see me kind of in the foreground shuffling through the melee of people. It was crazy what happened. I ended up getting in there, grabbing players and trying to pull people off each other.”

Making the scene more chaotic, fights were breaking out in the crowd too.

“The Canadian fans were outnumbered, so I think there was a little worry about some of our families at the time too,” he said. “We were curious and hoping everyone got out of there fine because beer bottles were coming out of the stands. Some things were hitting our players.”

According to media reports from that day, Canada pitching coach Denis Boucher was hit in the face by a full water bottle. Then Canada shortstop Cale Iorg angrily threw the bottle back into the stands.

Axford collected himself and pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth in a 10-3 Canada victory, but as he recalls: “I remember throwing a fastball in on a guy and was like, ‘If I accidentally hit him, what’s gonna happen?'”

The Canadians went 1-2 and didn’t make it out of the first round in 2013. But Axford is happy to now return to his national team. He’s pitched in just one exhibition for Oakland, tossing a scoreless inning with two walks Thursday against Texas, and will throw one more bullpen session before leaving Sunday for Tampa, where Team Canada will train before first-round play begins in Miami.

Axford also says he’ll be better prepared to return to his major league club than he was following that tournament in ‘13.

Axford posted an 8.44 ERA through April that season with the Milwaukee Brewers, but says he’s now bigger and stronger than he was then.

“Things didn’t work out quite as well at the beginning of ’13 … but I think that’s just where I’ve gone the last four years as far as preparation in the offseason,” he said. “That has certainly changed leading up to spring training. I feel I’m better prepared, more physically prepared.”

A's agree to deal with familiar veteran pitcher


A's agree to deal with familiar veteran pitcher

UPDATE (Mar. 19, 7:45 p.m. PT): The A's officially announced the Cahill signing on Monday. This story has been updated to reflect that.

On the same day the Oakland A's learned they'd be without Jharel Cotton all season, they signed a familiar face to bolster their pitching depth. 

Oakland agreed to a one-year deal with Trevor Cahill, nearly 12 years after the A's drafted him in the second round. 

Cahill pitched for Oakland from 2009-11. He started 96 games in three seasons with the A's, going 40-35 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Since Oakland traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Dec. 2011, Cahill's pitched for six teams. 

The 30-year-old won a World Series ring with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, and pitched for the San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals last season. In 2017, he went 4-3 in 21 appearances (14 starts) with a 4.93 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. 

A's Jharel Cotton to undergo Tommy John surgery, miss 2018 season


A's Jharel Cotton to undergo Tommy John surgery, miss 2018 season

The A's will be without starting pitcher Jharel Cotton for the entire 2018 season as he is set to undergo Tommy John surgery. 

Cotton, 26, went 9-10 with a 5.58 ERA in 2017 after a rookie season in which he went 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts. Leading up to the injury, he was 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA over four appearances in spring training.

Watch Cotton react to the news: