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John Axford looking forward to challenge with Rockies

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The Rockies' newest reliever is fit for the difficult task of pitching at Coors Field. Plus, other news, notes and fun tidbits.

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Rockies add Axford on Minors deal with spring invite |
Harding has some quotes from John Axford, who is looking forward to the challenge of pitching for the Rockies.

"It'll make me focus on what I need to do," Axford said. "I have to pay attention to what I do regardless, but if it makes me do it that much more extra, then I'm in the right place for me."

It's possible that the Rockies offered Axford the opportunity to close some games as a means of sweetening the deal, MLB Trade Rumors noted in their post on the signing. Axford talked with Harding about that, as well.

"... that's LaTroy's job, and he did a great job last year. I'm here to help win some ballgames."

In case you missed it, here's our story from Monday on Axford's deal with Colorado.

Groundhog Day: Reliving broken-leg win not painful for Hirsh |
Former big leaguer turned ROOT Sports analyst Jason Hirsh spoke with Thomas Harding about pitching with a broken leg in August of 2007. Hirsh made just four MLB appearances after that game, which resulted in a win for the Rockies. But his league-average performance in that rookie season was key during the Rockies' stretch of treading water before their historic finish and eventual World Series berth.

Look who's ready to return to the Rockies rotation - The Denver Post
Jhoulys Chacin has worked harder than he ever has to get to the point he's at now, which is ready to step into Colorado's starting five, according to Patrick Saunders. We had more on this in our look at the Rockies' fifth starter options, and I'll have even more over at SB Nation MLB sometime hopefully in the next day or two.

Win percentage vs. BaseRuns win percentage - Beyond the Box Score
The AL champion Royals played over their heads last season. Everyone already knew that, but Kevin Ruprecht backs up that statement with statistical facts. Guess which team played the most under their expected winning percentage? You got it!

The Return of Incredible Rafael Betancourt Fun Facts | FanGraphs Baseball
Jeff Sullivan explores Betancourt's rather marvelous career, showing how he never pitches inside to left-handers but lives on the inner half of the plate against righties. Despite that last part, he's hit only one batter in his career. A fantastic conclusion from Sullivan:

Rafael Betancourt, in a way, is some kind of freak. Not in his physical ability, but in how he channels it. No other pitcher lately has been quite like Rafael Betancourt. I think that’s reason enough to raise your awareness before he officially calls it a career.