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A.J. Ellis channels 'Rocky IV'

The Dodgers catcher leads the team with 17 walks and is second on the team with a .394 on-base percentage.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Tuesday night's game against the Diamondbacks, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis has a modest five-game hitting streak, covering all of his games played so far in May. Ellis has reached base at least twice in each of his last four games, and during the five-game hitting streak he is hitting .400/.478/.550 (8-for-20) with three walks and a home run.

Ellis was interviewed in San Francisco by Eno Sarris of Fangraphs, who wrote about the Dodgers catcher on Tuesday:

Does his team value his elite skill? And why don’t they use him higher in the lineup? "They always credit me for my ability to get on base," Ellis, said, but added that "you want your best hitters to get the most at-bats as they can" and that his team is "stacked with an elite lineup that can do damage."

It’s this sort of self-awareness (and self-deprecation) that has served Ellis well. As well as the hard work that he’s put in, and the support of those around him. When the season’s over, he’ll head to Milwaukee for the winter. "My wife is from Milwaukee, so it’s happy wife, happy life," he told me, which means he’ll train in the snow for another season. "I’m like Rocky in `Rocky IV,’" Ellis said, "going to fight the Russian, in the Siberian snow, chopping down trees, getting to the top of the mountain and yelling ‘Zitooo!’"

Ellis on the season is hitting .283/.394/.402, continuing to do what he did all of last season. He has also started 26 of 31 games this season, one more start than he had through 31 team games in 2012.

Manager Don Mattingly said all through spring training he would try to rest Ellis more this season, but thus far that hasn't been the case. Those 25 starts in 31 games last year came in 35 days, while this season's 26 starts have come in 36 days.

But whether it's Ellis or Ramon Hernandez behind the plate on Tuesday night against Arizona, they will try to coax a quality start out of a struggling Josh Beckett.

On Apr. 14 in Arizona, Beckett didn't allow a run until the ninth inning in what was easily his best start as a Dodger. Unfortunately that run was the only run of the game and he suffered a complete game loss. His games since have been anything but complete. He has allowed 14 runs in 15 innings over his last three starts, each one shorter than the last, culminating in a four-inning affair last Wednesday.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m.

TV: Prime Ticket