Axelrod cutting the competition

Dylan Axelrod is playing in front of a home crowd in the California League after attending UC-Irvine. But his motivation comes from beginning the year fresh after a grueling professional debut – that and his newly developed cutter

What is the learning process for you when you come into spring training for the first time and what did you hope to gain out of it?

Dylan Axelrod: I think the experience is the main thing, learning from the older guys – Double-A and Triple-A guys – and going about your business and doing all you can do.

In the early stages, I was working on keeping everything down. I started throwing a cutter so hopefully I will throw that.

How tough is it to work on a pitch and then find the confidence to bring it into real games?

Dylan Axelrod: I don't think it is that hard. If you are throwing it well in bullpens, it should not change once a hitter gets up there. I don't really worry about that.

The tendency is to lose a little velocity after you get drafted. Did you go through that and wonder what was going on?

Dylan Axelrod: Last year was a long year with our season at UC-Irvine and then going straight into pro ball. I think I lost a little bit at the end but that is natural. You get tired.

I am looking forward to starting fresh this year.

What is starting fresh and can you feel things being just a little crisper?

Dylan Axelrod: For sure. It is different. You play long toss building up your arm strength after a little bit of rest and I can see more in the tank for this year.

What lessons did you learn last year that you can take into this season?

Dylan Axelrod: Not to change. You think you are going into pro ball and it is going to be different. It is really just facing hitters, sticking to your strengths, and doing what works.

Did you feel like you changed last year?

Dylan Axelrod: I think at first. Right away, I was thinking, ‘These guys must be able to hit a fastball over the plate.' I was trying to be too fine. You just have to do what you do.

You went from Arizona to Fort Wayne and performed well in the Midwest League. Did anything feel different and what had you so confident out there?

Dylan Axelrod: You can't let them get in hitter's counts the higher you go up. Fastballs over the plate – they are going to hit it. You have to get ahead.

You performed quite well with runners on base last year – is there a different approach you take with men on base?

Dylan Axelrod: I didn't realize that. From college, I used to come in during situations like that – second and third and one out. ‘Get out of this.' I am used to it. You have a lot of adrenaline in situations like that. I think that is a part of it too.

Do you feel more comfortable in the stretch versus the windup?

Dylan Axelrod: I like being in the windup cause that means there is nobody on base.

Left-handers had a little more success off you than did righties – how do you combat that moving forward?

Dylan Axelrod: I think the cutter I am working on is really going to help with that. Before, I was pretty much away, away, away to lefties. That is not going to happen anymore. They will have that inside pitch to consider with that cutter. That was the biggest reason.

Were you a Padres fan growing up?

Dylan Axelrod: No, not really. I like the Padres over the Dodgers.

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