The Los Angeles Dodgers traded Matt Kemp this winter and the return was anchored by a switch-hitting catcher that was supposed to aid the almost non-existent offense received by the team from that position.
While Kemp was the number three hitter for his new team on Opening Day, catcher Yasmani Grandal was nowhere to be found in the Dodgers 6-3 season-opening victory. That was because ace Clayton Kershaw prefers the veteran A.J. Ellis, who has spent the past three seasons as the everyday catcher.
According to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, Ellis got the nod on Monday, but wasn’t promised anything else:
He made it clear in no way was it going to be a ‘personal catcher’ situation,” Ellis said. “It was just a case of wanting to give Clayton something he was comfortable with the first time out this year.”
Kershaw had a mediocre performance based on his standards, allowing three runs in six innings and earning a no-decision. Ellis went 0-for-3 at the plate with a pair of strikeouts.
It’s clear that Kershaw had a bit of a say in the decision for Ellis to start, but Mattingly hopes that the rapport between the staff and both catchers continues to grow:
We’ve talked to Clayton a lot about this. Guys have preferences. We’d really like our catching situation to be one where (the starting pitchers) trust both guys and they’re all involved in meetings and calling pitches and how they attack – for all our guys, not just Clayton. Every guy, we want him to feel like no matter who is catching him that they’re comfortable with, ‘This is the way I work. This is what I want to do today.’”
One thing Mattingly wants to avoid is one pitcher only being able to throw to a certain guy:
“I don’t want it to be a personal catcher situation,” Mattingly said.
Saturday will be the next time Kershaw takes the mound and who catches that night will be monitored closely.
Dodgers 2015 Spring Training – Brandon McCarthy