A.J. Ellis is very team-oriented, so the last thing he wanted to do after the Dodgers' 6-1 win over the Cubs on Friday was talk about himself, even if he did hit two home runs for the first time in his major league career.
"I'm just happy to be a part of this team," he said.
But when asked about himself, Ellis even downplayed the two home runs that helped bring his seasonal line to .283/.395/.438.
"As silly as this might sound, with the runner on third base getting that base hit was the at-bat I'm most proud of," Ellis said, referring to his RBI single in the fifth inning.
But Ellis is also funny and self deprecating, including about setting a new professional career high with 10 home runs in a season.
"It's bad that you've hit so few home runs that you know. I can probably tell you every home run I've ever hit in my life," Ellis said with a smile. "It was some kid named John in my first ever little league game."
Matt Kemp nearly homered in the first inning on a fly ball to the right field warning track, and praised Ellis for being able to hit an opposite field shot that actually went out.
"I'm waiting for the drug testers to come find me," Ellis joked.
Ellis said he hasn't yet checked his Twitter replies, but saw the note on the left field scoreboard during the game that he was trending. Here is Vin Scully, describing the phenomenon that occurred on Friday night.
I told Ellis that even Nancy Sinatra joined in the Twitter fun, and he just laughed, then said, "These boots are made for walking, right?"
Make no mistake, the 31-year old Ellis is cherishing this season, his first full season in the majors.
"Being the catcher for theisn't something I thought would ever happen coming up through the minor leagues," Ellis said. "I'm enjoying every second of it."
Billingsley On The Attack
One thing Ellis did have no trouble talking about on Friday was Chad Billingsley, who won his third straight game with an outstanding performance. Billingsley pitched seven innings and allowed one run, and he struck out seven.
"Chad was attacking the zone, kind of like his starts since coming back from his injury," Ellis said. "It's hard to gameplan against Chad because he has so many weapons."
Manager Don Mattingly thinks the brief time off helped Billingsley, who only needed to miss one start while on the disabled list for elbow inflammation.
"Sometimes your body is telling you something. Him having some pain was his body letting him know that he needed that start. Just basically giving him those days off really allowed that thing to calm down. It wasn't anything big but it was big enough to be causing pain," Mattingly said. "Even though he felt like he could have went and was normal, it's allowed him to be sharper. He's been going deep in games, and he's throwing strikes."
Ellis noticed the change in Billingsley as well.
"It's as simple as using his fastball more and trusting it, and getting the ball to both sides of the plate with regularity," Ellis said. "He's not in the middle of the plate as much, and most pitchers will tell you when you're in the middle you're in for a long night."
Clayton Kershaw takes the hill on Saturday night as the Dodgers go for their second straight win. With the arrival of Joe Blanton, the Dodgers will likely have another reliever (Josh Wall, perhaps?) called up to replace Stephen Fife on the roster until Blanton's day to pitch. Chris Volstad, who is 0-12 with a 5.68 ERA in his last 20 starts, starts for the Cubs.