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Yasmani Grandal starts at catcher, batting 5th in Dodgers debut

Yasmani Grandal makes his Dodgers debut on Tuesday night against his old team, the Padres.
Yasmani Grandal makes his Dodgers debut on Tuesday night against his old team, the Padres.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers will turn to Ysmani Grandal behind the plate on Tuesday night in the second game of a three-game series against the Padres at Dodger Stadium.

Grandal was a spectator on Monday in the Dodgers' 6-3 win over the Padres, as A.J. Ellis started at catcher with Clayton Kershaw on the mound. It was the fourth straight opening day start for Ellis, making him the 10th Dodgers catcher in the last 102 years to do that.

"In this franchise, there's just a historic reputation for catchers here, going all the way back to Johnny Roseboro. From Campy to Yeager," Ellis said. "It's really special to have done this for a few years in a row. I get emotional every opening day."

Grandal was the key piece in the trade that sent Matt Kemp to San Diego, and now he gets to face his old team, a day after Kemp played against several ex-teammates. Grandal holds no ill will against his old team - though Tuesday starter Tyson Ross was one of three Padres pitchers who didn't want to pitch to Grandal in the second half of 2014.

The switch-hitting Grandal has been a better hitter left-handed in his career - the side he will bat against the right-hander Ross - hitting .252/.356/.424 compared to .225/.335/.379 right-handed.

Grandal has shown patience, even saying several times during spring training he expected Ellis to catch Kershaw often, even on opening day, which is what happened on Monday. But now, Grandal gets his chance, batting fifth on Tuesday night.

"This year is about time," Grandal told Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It’s going to take time to show that there’s a reason I was a first-rounder; there’s a reason I did so good in the minor leagues; there’s a reason I was on the fast track. In between there, was there a lot of things that slowed me down? Yeah, but I think time will show. Time is on my side."