Axelrod thankful for family ties

Having an uncle who's an agent paid off for Dylan Axelrod. Jerry Lai/US Presswire

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Growing up the nephew of sports agent Barry Axelrod, White Sox pitcher Dylan Axelrod got to spend a lot of time around former major leaguers like Mark Grace, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Rick Sutcliffe, all clients of Barry's.

"I would go to visit during Thanksgiving and there would be people there, like Grace or Sutcliffe," Dylan recalled. "I've known Sutcliffe since I was little. He's helped me out a lot, too. So I'm definitely blessed to have people around me helping me out like that."

Axelrod, who is competing for one of the White Sox's three open bullpen spots, has had quite the support system over the years. In the White Sox clubhouse, Axelrod can turn to starting pitcher Jake Peavy, another client of his uncle and someone who's known Dylan since he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2008. Shortly after Peavy was traded to Chicago in 2008, Axelrod was cut. After impressing scouts while playing with Windy City of the Frontier League he signed with the White Sox.

"It's fun to have watched Dylan progress," Peavy said. "Me and Dylan, we talk. We talk about pitching. We talk about what works at this level. Dylan's a professional. He knows what makes him good but at the same time you never stop learning. I could learn something from him as easy as he can from me."

Axelrod will make his Cactus League debut on Wednesday against Milwaukee, entering in relief for Peavy.

"I've bounced ideas off of him," Axelrod said of Peavy. "I like his approach. It's simple, like mine. I love his competitiveness. I'm not one to outwardly show it as much as he does but I've been more fiery out there and I'm not afraid to express myself at least inwardly. You get excited about the game."