When the offseason began for Los Angeles Dodgers, one of their question marks was A.J. Ellis. He endured an injury-riddled season that greatly affected his offensive production, but he was one of the few Dodgers who swung the bat well in the postseason and had the backing of Clayton Kershaw.
As an arbitration-eligible player, Ellis was tendered a contract by the new front office regime and the sides ultimately agreed to a one-year, $4.25 million deal in January. While Ellis was set to enter another season with the Dodgers, the only organization he’s known, his playing time figured to be significantly decreased with the arrival of Yasmani Grandal.
The change in playing time for the 34 year old is something Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is mindful of. “A.J. hasn’t been playing a whole lot,” Mattingly said prior to Saturday’s game with the Colorado Rockies, one which Ellis started in.
“We’re pretty much trying to get him in against lefties as much as possible. I’m never worried about A.J. as a teammate or understanding. I just try to be mindful of the fact he was the starting catcher last year, and now he’s more of a second catcher. I want to make sure he doesn’t feel slighted in any way.”
Mattingly again reiterated his Friday comments that Ellis is in line to receive more playing time in the coming days due to pitching matchups and start times. He also credited Ellis for helping Grandal off the field.
“I think he’s been really good,” Mattingly said. “I think he’s been a good asset and made Yas [Grandal] comfortable.” Mattingly added both catchers are involved in meetings with the pitching staff and developing game plans.
Ellis’ start Saturday was his first since May 10 and only his third in the Dodgers’ last 10 games. He went hitless with one strikeout in three at-bats Saturday, though it can’t be viewed as much of an indictment on him as the Dodgers combined for just two hits in their loss.
Ellis is batting .125/.200/.156 with four hits and six strikeouts in 36 plate appearances over 10 starts this season. The limited role is one Ellis has maintained he’s accepting of in the best interest of the team.
Kenley Jansen Discusses 2015 Dodgers Debut