In a week full of minor roster moves and injury news, both positive and negative, the Los Angeles Dodgers may soon see the return of A.J. Ellis. The 33-year-old catcher has been out since early April after having surgery to repair a tear in the meniscus in his left knee.
It’s a similar surgery Ellis has previously undergone and his recovery had been at an accelerated rate. Ellis was behind the plate to catch Clayton Kershaw’s simulated game 12 days after having surgery. The catcher successfully began taking batting practice, but suffered some irritation in his knee when he attempted to add running to his workouts.
According to the Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter, Ellis was running again Sunday morning in what the catcher has stated is his last hurdle to clear:
Ellis has begun catching bullpen sessions and is stepping up his running program, sprinting hard from first base to third Sunday morning. Ellis said the running is the last box to check off in his rehab.
In Ellis’ absence, Tim Federowicz handled the majority of the catching duties, with some starts going to Drew Butera. Both catchers struggled at the plate and neither was particularly stellar defensively. The lack of production ultimately led to the Dodgers selecting Miguel Olivo’s contract, who was with their Triple-A affiliate.
Olivo’s arrival immediately provided a boost to the bottom of batting order. In three starts, Olivo is hitting .417 with two RBIs and a 1.012 OPS. Once Ellis is ready to return, manager Don Mattingly may face a difficult roster decision. Butera is out of options, which is a reason that contributed to his making the Opening Day roster ahead of Federowicz.
If optioned to the minors, both Butera and Olivo would first need to clear waivers, which isn’t a guarantee and the Dodgers could potentially lose whichever player is sent down. Olivo joined the Dodgers as a Spring Training non-roster invitee and initially refused to accept a Minor League assignment. Given Olivo’s level of production thus far, it’s hard to fathom him being the catcher who gets optioned.
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