LOS ANGELES -- Our first lineup of the season is here, and against the Padres on opening day the Dodgers have Yasiel Puig batting second, and A.J. Ellis catching Clayton Kershaw's first start of the season.
Ellis is the 10th Dodgers catcher to start at least four straight opening days, dating back to 1914.
It is unknown exactly how Yasmani Grandal and Ellis will split time behind the plate this season, but in spring training it was pretty much equal. Grandal caught 96 innings in Cactus League play, while Ellis caught 95. Both made 16 starts at catcher during the spring.
Ellis caught 81 of Kershaw's 94 starts in the last three years, including 22 of 27 starts in 2014. He caught four of Kershaw's six spring training starts, with Grandal catching the other two.
Manager Don Mattingly at numerous times during spring training dismissed the idea of a personal catcher.
"It really does box you in as far as writing a lineup, putting the best club on the field, protecting yourself against an injury here and there, guys needing a day off," Mattingly said in February. "There are so many factors that go into that. It really boxes you in against making good decisions."
Ellis didn't shy away from his desire to catch Kershaw.
"Clayton and I have really worked well together. We've had a lot of special moments on the field together. Those are highlights of mine, individually," Ellis said in spring training. "I'm going to fight for every opportunity to catch him, but at the end of the day Donnie is the one making those decisions."
The question throughout spring training was whether Puig or Carl Crawford would bat second. Crawford batted second 12 games during the spring, and Puig did so seven times.
Puig made 89 of his 142 starts last year batting second, with 33 more starts batting third. Crawford started 28 times batting sixth last season, 23 times batting fifth, and 18 more batting second.
"The thing I like about Yasi [batting second] is that bat comes up, and it has a chance to impact the game with more power," Mattingly said last week. "That slot gets up and you're down a run, down two — even though Carl can get the ball out of the ballpark — it is a dynamic force up there."