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Player/coach A.J. Ellis back at catcher for series finale with Padres

Dave Roberts was highly complimentary of his catcher A.J. Ellis, back in the starting lineup on Wednesday in San Diego.
Dave Roberts was highly complimentary of his catcher A.J. Ellis, back in the starting lineup on Wednesday in San Diego.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO -- A.J. Ellis is back at catcher for the Dodgers in their series finale against the Padres but otherwise there are no changes to the lineup that has scored 18 runs in the first two games at Petco Park.

Ellis caught on opening day, then Austin Barnes caught on Tuesday with Scott Kazmir on the mound. Barnes will catch again on Thursday afternoon in San Francisco with a day game following Wednesday night's game.

"I see a mentor, a big brother, a great teammate. A.J. is in it for the right reasons," Roberts said of his catcher on Tuesday. "Robin Ventura when I played with him in LA was a 'ploach', a player/coach. A.J. is not there yet because Robin had more service and was older, but A.J. is tracking to be a ploach. It's a compliment, for sure.

"He thinks the game. He relates to players, he communicates to players. He asks the right questions. If he wants to coach, I definitely see that as a possibility. Between that and broadcasting, he has some opportunities ahead of him."

Ellis is 7-for-14 (.500) with two walks against Padres starter Andrew Cashner in his career. But he's not along in having success agains the San Diego starter.

Adrian Gonzalez has more plate appearances than any other major league player against Cashner (35), and is 11-for-32 (.344) with a double and four home runs against the right-hander. Three of those home runs came in one game, last April 8 at Dodger Stadium, also in the third game of the season.

Carl Crawford is 9-for-26 (.346) with two doubles and a homer against Cashner, but also has 10 strikeouts. Crawford has played five innings in left field in each of the first two games, then has exited with leads of 8-0 and 3-0, respectively, in favor of Trayce Thompson.

"I want to be able to use the whole roster," Roberts said after Tuesday's game. "And I'm also mindful of keeping Crawford healthy. This keeps him fresh and ready for the start tomorrow."

Crawford has averaged just 97 games played and 344 plate appearances in the last three years, including playing in just 69 games and 193 PA in 2015.

Justin Turner is 4-for-6 (.667) with two doubles against Cashner.

The Padres, facing a right-handed starter for the first time in the series, made a small tweak to their lineup after scoring zero runs in the first two games. Rule 5 pick Jabari Blash is in left field batting eighth, his first major league start.