GLENDALE -- Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis reported to camp on Saturday in the proverbial best shape of his life, an estimated 15 pounds lighter than last year.
"It's good to trim up and try to take some stress off my lower body. I want to catch 120-125 games this year and I want to be physically ready to do that," Ellis said. "You can't do that if you're not in great shape and able to withstand the physical grind of the position."
Ellis started 109 games in 2013, which included a stint on the disabled list. He started 126 games in 2012, his first year as a full-time starter in the majors. Ellis has performance bonuses in his contract, earning $50,000 for each of 110 and 115 starts in 2014, and another $50,000 for 450 plate appearances.
"It was mainly diet, mainly making better decisions," said Ellis, who then turned to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times one day after this tweet:
My first low-calorie meal of the spring from @CrackerBarrel. #BestShapeOfMyLife pic.twitter.com/X1iQeNn35i— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) February 7, 2014
"I can talk to you about it. One thing that's not on the diet is Cracker Barrel breakfast," Ellis joked to Hernandez amid a group of reporters. "I don't know what you had on your plate, but I've never seen cholesterol ooze through an iPhone before. My hands were greasy on the other side of it."
Before signing with the Dodgers, Zack Greinke famously discussed the club's farm system with general manager Ned Colletti and president Stan Kasten during their initial meetings. During his time with the Brewers, Greinke would occasionally sit in with GM Doug Melvin in their draft war room.
In short, Greinke enjoys the personnel side of the sport. So it's only natural that Greinke was asked about teammate Clayton Kershaw's record seven-year, $215 million contract.
"I thought it was solid for both sides," Greinke said. "He's the best pitcher, but pitching is a little less predictable than position players long term. You can't give him a 10-year, $32 million a year deal."
When Greinke signed his six-year, $147 million contract with the Dodgers in December 2012, his $24.5 million average annual value was the highest ever for a pitcher. That number has been passed three times since, by Felix Hernandez ($27.1 million) and Justin Verlander ($28 million) last winter, and Kershaw ($30.6 million) this offseason. Still, Kershaw's deal was close to Greinke's prediction.
"He's been so good, you can't really tell. Anything he gets you can probably say he's worth it. I would say it's a little bit more than I thought it would be, but maybe only $1 million a year," Greinke said. "The opt out for him is big."
- Manager Don Mattingly echoed earlier sentiments that center fielder Matt Kemp likely wouldn't be ready for the March 22-23 games in Sydney. "I can't rule him out, but I know we're going to be careful with him," Mattingly said. "He doesn't look like he's going to be ready for Australia."
- Withe the Dodgers limited to 21 Cactus League games in 19 days, and minor league games not starting until March 15 - one day before the Dodgers leave for Australia - Mattingly said the Dodgers would play some intrasquad games to get extra at-bats for players.
- When asked to describe the second base situation, the first thing Mattingly said was "competitive."
- Kershaw was presented his 2013 National League Cy Young Award by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, who won his first of three awards 50 years prior. Kershaw said the experience was awesome. "I've gotten to know him over the years and have so much respect for him. For him to come to New York and deal with that circus that's out there and do that for me, that's pretty special," Kershaw said.
- It's early in camp, which means mostly short bullpen sessions for the pitchers every other day for a while. Scheduled to throw bullpens on Sunday are Kershaw, Dan Haren, Hyun-jin Ryu, Kenley Jansen, Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, J.P. Howell, Javy Guerra, Seth Rosin, Matt Magill, Jose Dominguez, Daniel Moskos, Sam Demel, Ross Stripling and Chris Reed.
- Scheduled for bullpen sessions on Monday are Greinke, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Brandon League, Jamey Wright, Stephen Fife, Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow, Zach Lee, Red Patterson, Yimi Garcia, Jarret Martin, Pedro Baez and Carlos Frias.
- The bullpen session list was posted before Paul Maholm was signed. The only two pitchers not listed to throw bullpen sessions in the next two days are Scott Elbert, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list Saturday, and Onelki Garcia, who had arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left elbow on Nov. 12.