With A.J. Ellis rehabbing, Dodgers catchers improving

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Catching up with the Dodgers catching quartet.

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis continues to progress in his rehab from left knee surgery, playing in simulated games in extended spring training at Camelback Ranch in Arizona.

Ellis is getting 7-10 at-bats per day while in Arizona, in a more controlled environment to protect his surgically repaired meniscus. He is getting closer to a minor league rehab assignment, the final step before his return to the Dodgers.

Ellis had surgery to repair the torn meniscus on April 8, an injury that has affected him more while running than while crouching behind the plate.

The catching position has been a tough one for the Dodgers this season offensively, as the club ranks last in baseball in OPS (.507), slugging percentage (.254), and batting average (.175), while ranking 29th out of 30 in on-base percentage (.254) from its catchers.

But the production has been improving of late.

In the first 19 games of the year, Dodgers backstops were hitting .103/.176/.115, with eight hits in 78 at-bats and one extra-base hit (a double), three runs scored and one RBI.

That was bound to improve, with a .136 batting average on balls in play well below the .305 BABIP mark by MLB catchers this season.

In the last 17 games, Dodgers catchers are hitting .241/.313/.397 with two home runs, a triple and a double, 10 runs scored and seven RBI.

The biggest change came on April 30, when Miguel Olivo was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque and Tim Federowicz was optioned back to the Isotopes. Olivo had two hits in two hits in two of his first three games with the Dodgers, and tripled in another game.

The 35-year-old Olivo signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in January, and started the year in Albuquerque. He made the best of his time on the farm, hitting .390/.438/.661 with four home runs and four doubles in 15 games.

"I went down to Triple-A and played hard," Olivo said. "Everybody knows what I can do. I just went there to play baseball, you know? You never know what's going to happen."

Olivo and Drew Butera have split starts evenly in the last 10 games. Butera drove in the only Dodgers run on Thursday night with a sacrifice fly, and has homered twice in May.

"I take a lot of pride in my defense but I take a lot of pride in my offense as well," Butera said. "I try to give a competitive at-bat every single time I go up to the plate, and it's definitely more positive when I'm able to help the team."

Meanwhile Federowicz, who was a part of the catcher turnaround starting five of those last 17 games, continues his rough season down in Albuquerque. He has only played in three games since his return to the Isotopes, and hasn't played since May 5.

Federowicz, who was hit in the left hand and wrist by Paul Goldschmidt's bat on a pair of catcher's interference calls, was hit again in the hand on a backswing in Albuquerque and has missed the last three games. Manager Damon Berryhill said Federowicz could catch with the bone bruise but can't swing a bat with the injury, per Chris Jackson of the Albuquerque Examiner.

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