A.J. Ellis spoke in somber tones Monday as he described one of baseball’s all-time freak injuries. An old adage was certainly at play: It’s only funny if it doesn’t happen to you.
Ellis sprained his ankle Sunday while the Dodgers ran out to congratulate Josh Beckett for his no-hitter at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Ellis didn’t catch the game — Drew Butera did — but Ellis leaped and landed on Butera’s discarded catcher’s mask in the midst of the celebration.
“I knew right away it was more significant than other ankle rolls I’ve had in the past,” Ellis said. “I immediately came in, saw (Dodgers head athletic trainer) Stan Conte, got an x-ray which came back negative, treated it the entire flight home yesterday, and came in this morning.
“I woke up and called Stan this morning I didn’t think I would be able to play the next few days just because of the way I felt. Probably best for the club to get another catcher up here. So I’m beyond frustrated, still kind of shocked and just ready to get back in the rhythm of things, whenever that might be.”
The Dodgers recalled Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Albuquerque with Ellis on the 15-day disabled list. Ellis was scheduled to meet with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache to determine the severity of the injury and a timetable for recovery.
Ellis missed nearly six weeks while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He’s only played in 15 games this season.
“I’m not really angry about it. I’m just shocked and frustrated,” Ellis said. “At a time like this I just rely on my faith and know that things happen for a reason. There’s a plan for me, there’s a plan for me this season. There’s a plan for this team this season. Whatever it might be I have to trust in that, and know that in the long run there’s a reason why this happened.”
In an ironic twist of fate, Ellis said that he and Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren discussed during Sunday’s game how they would celebrate a possible no-hitter cautiously.
“I just kind of trailed the group out there,” Ellis said. “I saw — and rightfully so — the euphoria on Josh’s face. So I was personally happy for Josh and for Drew Butera, the game he caught, so proud of him. I saw the way that some of my teammates reacted by jumping around.”
Ellis said that he was using “a nice system of ice and compression” during the team’s flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to keep swelling to a minimum. That worked well, to the point where “getting off the plane I was feeling really good,” Ellis said.
“This morning as they predicted it was hard moving around once I got up,” Ellis said. “You’ve got to be realistic, respectful for the team, unselfish enough to know that you can’t put the team in a bind. We’re already behind the 8-ball with Hanley (Ramirez) trying to get back on the mend. I can’t put Donnie in a position where there’s multiple guys on his bench that are unavailable.”
Going on the disabled list and calling up Federowicz, Ellis said, was the right decision.
“The organization made the right call,” he said. “We need coverage for Drew.”
In 16 games since he last was assigned to Triple-A Albuquerque, Federowicz had a .309/.345.436 slash line in 15 games, with 12 strikeouts and 3 walks in 58 plate appearances.