In his 116th game of the season, A.J. Ellis hit a wall.
It came without warning but, starting with the Dodgers’ Sept. 11 game in Arizona, Ellis went 10 straight games without a hit — a span of 31 plate appearances.
Before this year Ellis’ career high was 110 games in a season, and that was when he was 26 years old and a Double-A catcher. The logical conclusion was that the workload of his first full major-league season had finally caught up with him. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Saturday he saw some fatigue from the catcher.
“A catcher, he’s got a lot going on,” Mattingly said. “A lot of studying he’s doing. It’s not like he’s hitting and going to the outfield. He’s hitting, he’s got to call every pitch. The games we’ve been in, it’s like ‘we can’t give up a run, we can’t give up a run.’ So his mind is always constantly on, almost like really intense mind — you’re saying ‘can’t give up a run, can’t give up a run, this is a big out.’ He’s going through that every pitch. So when he’s not hitting, he’s doing that I can see more mental weardown than physical.”
Bobby Abreu‘s first career pinch-hit home run provided the final two runs of the Dodgers’ 8-0 win over the Colorado Rockies. After the game, manager Don Mattingly was asked if he’d do more to get Abreu into the lineup.
With Shane Victorino, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier all healthy? No.
But there’s something to be said for the fourth act of Abreu’s season. Let’s call Act 1 “Anaheim,” Act 2 “Starter for the Dodgers,” Act 3 “Albuquerque” and Act 4 “Pinch hitter.” All 19 of Abreu’s plate appearances in September have come as a pinch-hitter. Add in his last four at-bats in July before the Dodgers designated him for assignment, and Abreu has made 23 straight plate appearances as a pinch hitter.
Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson was playing meaningful games last week, perhaps more meaningful than any the big-league club will play anytime soon.
They were the first — and so far, last — World Baseball Classic games for Team Israel. Pederson, who was at Dodger Stadium on Friday to receive his Branch Rickey Award as the organizational hitter of the year, couldn’t say enough about the three games in Jupiter, Florida.
“It was a great experience, something I’ll never forget,” he said. “We were only together for I think it was maybe 10 days, and I’ve never seen a group of guys have so much team chemistry. It was an unforgettable experience.”