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Axelrod ready for challenge of pitching in relief

Axelrod ready for challenge of pitching in relief

Axelrod ready for challenge of pitching in relief

CHICAGO -- All 18 of Dylan Axelrod's 2013 appearances have come as part of the White Sox rotation.

That streak now figures to be broken, with Axelrod moving to the bullpen upon Jake Peavy's return and Hector Santiago staying as a starter. Instead of complaining about the move, the right-hander is ready to tackle this next challenge.

"I just look at it as being a team guy and being able to go fill a role in the bullpen for however long that might be," Axelrod said. "Just do the best I can. I'm just happy to be given that opportunity, just to be seen as a versatile guy that can go back and forth."

Axelrod posted a 3-4 record with a 3.73 ERA during his first 70 innings over 12 starts this season, as opposed to a 0-2 record with a 9.32 ERA during 28 innings in his last six starts. That slump eventually produced the move for Axelrod, who has a 1-0 record with 5.93 ERA in eight career relief appearances.

This bullpen change also leads to more of a daily focus as far as Axelrod's pitching preparation is concerned.

"You get used to the routine of starting, but I've been in the bullpen before," Axelrod said. "You've really got to make a change in your mental side of the game, where you have to be ready to pitch every day and prepare to pitch every day and not have those mental breaks where you can kind of just let your guard down.

"I'm trying to make myself aware of that and just stay ready. You have to be ready all the time."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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