A.J. Ellis running, but not rushing to return to Dodgers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers catcher said running is the final step before he can begin a rehab assignment, but is being cautious about not trying to return to soon after surgery.

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said he is still ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from left knee surgery, but still must clear the hurdle — no, not literally — of running pain free before he can be cleared for a minor league rehab assignment.

Ellis ran before Saturday's game at Dodger Stadium, the first time he has done so since his April 8 procedure to repair a torn left meniscus. He did light jogging at first, then increased the intensity.

"I'm just trying to understand what pain threshold I should be experiencing, what is good pain and what is pain I should pay attention to," Ellis said. "Just listening to my body and listening to Stan [Conte, head trainer] and the medical staff."

Ellis has been able to catch and take batting practice — as he put it, "baseball stuff" — without pain, and has been doing those activities for over a week. But there is still some irritation when he runs.

"We all feel pretty confident [running is] the last step," Ellis explained. "Once we get through a pain-free comfortable zone running, a rehab assignment should follow quickly."

This is the third season as the Dodgers primary catcher for Ellis, who caught every inning of the first seven games of the season. At the time of his surgery, Ellis since the beginning of 2012 ranked fourth in MLB with both 244 starts and 2,185 innings behind the plate.

Ellis took Sunday off from running, which coupled with Monday's off day gives him two days of rest. He said he will resume running when the team is in Minnesota, where the team begins a three-game series against the Twins on Tuesday.

At any rate, the medical staff is exercising caution and preaching patience with Ellis, just under three weeks removed from surgery.

"We're still ahead of schedule of what was the original prognosis of four to six weeks, we're using that time to see if we can put the fire completely out. It's a long season," Ellis said. "You can play with something that nags you all year long or you can take the opportunity to see if this is something you can get rid of completely and be pain free the rest of the season.

"As frustrating as it is and as hard as it is for me to not be out there with the guys, I think it's the right decision. I'm on board with what we're doing."

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