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The Cardinals were impressed. They traded for him in August, and Axford allowed only two earned runs in 13 appearances heading into the playoffs. He gave up one run in six postseason appearances.

It was more like the way he pitched earlier in his career with the Brewers. Axford set a club record with 46 saves in 2011 and converted 49 consecutive save chances from 2011-12.

The Indians needed someone to replace closer Chris Perez, who lost the job late last season. Axford got to move into a closer role with a team that reached the playoffs last season.

“There were a few different teams out there that were in the hunt as well,” Axford said. “I didn’t want to just pitch for any team. It had to be a perfect fit for me.

“Cleveland was just that perfect fit.”

Starter Aaron Harang also found the Indians to be a good fit. He agreed to a minor league contract on Saturday and was invited to camp to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation.

The 35-year-old pitcher went to spring training with the Dodgers last year competing for a spot in the rotation, but got moved into the bullpen. He was traded to Colorado, which in turn traded him to Seattle, where he went 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA. He finished the season with the Mets, making four starts.

“I’d been in the National League my whole career,” Harang said, before his first workout on Sunday. “I felt there was a little bit of a transition coming over to the AL. I know we face teams in interleague, but it’s different when it’s on a day-to-day basis and you’re seeing a lot of faces you don’t see all the time.

“I know what I have to do now to make the adjustments after spending last year in Seattle.”

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay