Experienced Axford an asset for A's bullpen

Melvin comfortable using right-hander late in games

Experienced Axford an asset for A's bullpen

DETROIT -- The A's overhauled much of the bullpen over the offseason, and they've seen positive results in 2016. One of those additions, John Axford, has been off to a particularly strong start.

Axford allowed his first run of the season during Oakland's 5-1 win against the Tigers on Tuesday, but he finished the ninth and has a 0.82 ERA.

"We envisioned him being exactly where he is right now," manager Bob Melvin said of Axford's performance so far. "Depending on who's available on a particular day, he could pitch anywhere from seventh to ninth inning, and we've even used him for the last out of the sixth. Can't say enough good things about what John Axford's done for us."

Oakland is Axford's sixth team since 2013, along with the Brewers, Cardinals, Indians, Pirates and Rockies. He tied for the National League lead with 46 saves for the Brewers in 2011 and has spent time in and out of the closer's role since, recording 10 saves with the Indians in 2014 and 25 with the Rockies last year.

Once again on a new team with new faces, Axford has been comfortable in the A's clubhouse.

"I've been on a few teams in my career. It's an adjustment I'm used to," he said. "This clubhouse has been open and welcoming, so it's been good."

As for coming into a situation where he knew he wouldn't be the closer, Axford said he's had no problem embracing the role.

"I've done different roles in the past," he said. "Obviously, closing was the biggest thing. I've embraced it, taken to it and just trying to do whatever I'm capable to help the team win."

Axford's previous appearance was Thursday, but that was his ninth in Oakland's first 16 games. There was a period earlier this month where the bullpen was getting taxed, but things have leveled out, and Melvin is happy with the group.

"That was a concern for us for a while," Melvin said. "Four of those guys were showing up in the top couple of the league [in relief innings]. It means you're playing some close games. I think [nine of our first 14] games were one-run games, so we needed them. Then you go through a period after three or four days where you're trying to get them in there. They've been great. Our bullpen's been a strength for us."

Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.