Saves leader could reclaim role

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ken Macha says there's a chance career saves leader Trevor Hoffman will reclaim the closer's role from rookie John Axford.

Macha says he's not sure how the situation will play out, but the 42-year-old Hoffman is throwing the ball well enough to return to the job.

"We'll play it out, we'll see," Macha said before Milwaukee hosted the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. "I'd feel pretty good about him coming in now."

There's still a large banner in center field at Miller Park that keeps track of Hoffman's career saves. It's been stuck on 596 since May 7.

"I certainly would like Trevor to reach his goal, and [if] that's getting 600, we'd like to get that done for him," Macha said. "Or 610, or whatever he wants."

Hoffman lost the closer job when he blew half of his first 10 save opportunities this season. But the right-hander has a win and five scoreless innings in his last five games.

"I thought that the other day was his best outing," Macha said. "He had good pop on the ball, good arm action on his changeup. For him, it's going to come down to making his pitches."

Hoffman has been supportive of Axford and Axford has downplayed replacing the career saves leader. Axford has said he's fine with whatever his role is as long as it's in Milwaukee.

But the 27-year-old right-hander has emerged as a potential long-term closer for Milwaukee. Axford has converted each of his four save opportunities and kept his composure during a couple of rocky appearances, going 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 14 games.

"That's all going to work itself out," Macha said. "I'm not worried about it. Both of them are pitching well."

Axford was selected by Cincinnati in the 42nd round of the 2005 draft and signed a minor league deal with Milwaukee in 2008. He zipped through the Brewers' system last year, going from Single A to the majors. He began this season with Triple-A Nashville but was recalled on May 15.