LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis has already made a difference on this homestand since his activation from the disabled list on Friday. In three games he is 4-for-7 with four walks, and has done so by keeping it simple at the plate.
"I got to do a lot of mental work when I was on the DL. Check out my swing, check out some things I was doing. Credit Mark McGwire and John Valentin for noticing some things," Ellis explained. "While I couldn't run, I was able to do a lot of work in the cage these last couple weeks. I used that time to get back of swinging the way I know, that I'm supposed to swing."
Ellis said he has been trying to hit up the middle more, focusing more on working the count and hitting line drives, that "the extra stuff" like home runs would come on their own.
"You start feeling good with your swing. As a baseball player I always want to get better, instead of being content with who you are," Ellis said. "It's a lesson I needed to learn, that who I am is good enough, and I don't need to be doing extra at the plate than what's made me successful in the major leagues."
Ellis began the year in a 4-for-24 slump in seven games though with four walks he did have a .310 on-base percentage. Then came nearly six weeks on the shelf after left knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. After just eight games back, he stepped on Drew Butera's catching mask during the celebration of Josh Beckett's no-hitter and sprained his right ankle.
Ellis had a minor league rehab assignment before returning from knee surgery, first playing in simulated games at Camelback Ranch in Arizona then with Triple-A Albuquerque. But after missing 18 days with the ankle sprain, Ellis was activated without first playing any minor league games.
"I was putting in a lot of good work. When I'm at my best I have a pretty simple approach and don't need to see a ton of pitches or have a ton of at-bats. I'm also an adrenalin junkie who kind of needs the major league level to kind of stimulate what I need to do," Ellis explained. "After five weeks and knee surgery I definitely needed to go some where, just to play the game, to stay into the rhythm of things. But for a couple weeks here I was able to stay locked in."
The hot streak began for Ellis before spraining his ankle. He was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks on May 16 in Arizona, and he has reached base via hit or walk in every game since, 10 in all. During those 10 games Ellis has reached base in 20 of his 38 plate appearances, hitting .308/.526/.385 during that span.
"He's kind of the case for no rehab right?" manager Don Mattingly said. "It's what we talked about, even the first day back he walked. He gives you that quality at-bat, makes the guy work, and he has gotten some hits for us, too. He looks good at the plate, good and fresh."
Dodgers starting pitchers have lasted at least six innings in seven straight games, and have five straight quality starts. Zack Greinke is tied for second on the team with nine quality starts in his 14 outings.
In the last 24 games, Dodgers starters have 18 quality starts and during that span have a 3.05 ERA while averaging 6.40 innings per start, with 139 strikeouts and just 26 walks in 153⅔ innings.
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
TV: Sports Net LA