Although A.J. Ellis will be out of the lineup for anywhere from four to six weeks with a torn meniscus, the Los Angeles Dodgers starting catcher is a valuable asset to the organization off the field and was back in catchers’ meetings with the team just a day after his knee surgery last week. The 33-year-old was told in his first season with the Dodgers in 2010 to take his responsibilities as a catcher beyond his play on the field.
This order was given to Ellis by none other than veteran Brad Ausmus who played with the Dodgers in 2009 and 2010 as a backup catcher during the tail end of his career. The now Detroit Tigers manager encouraged Ellis to be more hands on in assisting pitching coach Rick Honeycutt with pitchers and developing game plans. As Ellis adopted these responsibilities full heartedly, he now serves as the mentor that Ausmus once was for him to back up catchers Tim Federowicz and Drew Butera.
Honeycutt has only gracious words in regards to the catcher Ellis has become and the valuable resource he is to the Dodgers pitching staff via Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com:
A.J., I feel, is like an extension of me — sometimes even better, said Honeycutt. I don’t call many pitches with him back there. The beauty is the trust the pitchers have in him. Guys come over here and they know he’s prepared, and that gives them comfort.
According to Gurnick, Federowicz also finds ease in his job as a back up with Ellis always an accessible resource:
It’s great that A.J.’s here with us, said Federowicz. He’s seen all the hitters, he knows the pitchers and how they need to attack the hitters. With him and Honey here, it’s easier on me and Drew.
Butera, who played in three seasons with the Twins before coming to Los Angeles, has acknowledged that the Dodgers are much more in depth with the way they go about their scouting reports utilizing more numbers than the Twins pitching staff did. These intricate scouting reports have proved advantageous for the Dodgers pitching staff, and much of this success can be attributed to Ellis’ hard work in the past few years. Although the catcher is sidelined temporarily, he is doing everything he can to be a big contributor off the field in the meantime.
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