Tim Federowicz didn't get to enjoy making his first opening day roster for very long. Less than a week into the season, on Saturday, the Dodgers traded pitcher Aaron Harang for catcher Ramon Hernandez, which left Federowicz as the odd man out behind the plate. On Wednesday he will be optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room on the active roster for pitcher Chad Billingsley, who will be activated from the disabled list to start the middle game of the three-game series against the Padres.
Federowicz saw the writing on the wall.
"It's tough. It's one of those things as a young player. I have options left, and that's just the way it is," Federowicz said Tuesday. "You need some protection at the catchers spot if someone were to get hurt. We only had two on the (40-man) roster, so they figured they had to do something."
In the visiting clubhouse at Petco Park, Federowicz has a locker right next to starting catcher A.J. Ellis, who rod the option train from 2009-2011 before winning the every day job in 2012.
"We talked today about everything. Basically the same thing happened to him. It's tough, but it made him a better player for it," Federowicz said. "I just have to focus on being a good teammate when I go down, and go above and beyond."
Right after the trade, manager Don Mattingly talked to Federowicz and explained the situation.
"We talked and I explained the whole situation. He handled it well. You don't expect guys to be happy when they hear certain things," Mattingly said. "I just tell him the truth, I don't know what else to do. I just laid it out there and let him know what we're thinking. They may not like it sometimes, but it seems to end up better that way rather than BS-ing them.
Mattingly committed to starting Federowicz in the series finale against Pittsburgh on Sunday and stuck to that plan even with Hernandez joining the team Sunday morning. It meant a lot to Federowicz, even though he knew it would be his last major league playing time for a while.
"I was pumped, and I made sure I went out there and played my best. I really went over the scouting report and felt really good before the game," Federowicz said. "Hyun-jin Ryu and I had a good chemistry going on, so that was good to see."
Ellis before opening day had high praise for Federowicz.
"I see a teammate I'm really proud of, a guy who has matured not only as a player but as a person as well. He takes his job extremely seriously. I'm so excited to catch with him this year. He's going to do an outstanding job," Elllis said. "He's going to be an outstanding major league catcher for a long, long time, and I'm just happy to be here at the beginning of his career."
Long term, the Dodgers share those high hopes for Federowicz. But for now he'll head back to Albuquerque for what he hopes is a short trip.
"It helps, knowing that I'm still in their plans for the future. I know I'm a good player, and I think they do too," Federowicz said. "It won't be long if I go down."