After multiple procedures on his left knee, Dodgers’ A.J. Ellis intends to change the way he catches.

A.J. Ellis has needed two clean-up procedures on the meniscus in his left knee in the last 19 months. That’s why a reporter, tongue in cheek, told the Dodgers catcher Wednesday to make sure his surgeon gets it right next time.

“He got it right the first time,” Ellis said. “He got it right the second time.”

Ellis was back in the Dodgers’ dugout for the first time since undergoing the arthroscopic procedure Monday. He said he began putting weight on his left leg Tuesday and was able to leave his crutches at home when he left for the ballpark. His progress has been quick and noticeable. As for that four-to-six week rehab timetable the team offered Monday, Ellis wasn’t willing to make any predictions — but he’s clearly trying to speed things up.

The catcher, who turns 33 today, hopes the second procedure is his last. He was typically quick to accept responsibility for needing the same surgery twice.
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Daily Distractions: A.J. Ellis to miss 4 to 6 weeks following arthroscopic surgery.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis underwent a 20-minute arthroscopic procedure, performed by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, to debride (clean up) the medial meniscus of his left knee. According to the team, he will start his rehabilitation tomorrow and recovery is expected in 4-6 weeks.

Catcher Tim Federowicz, who wasn’t in the Albuquerque Isotopes starting lineup Monday or today, is expected to be recalled from the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in time for tonight’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

On Oct. 5, 2012, ElAttrache performed a 30-minute clean up procedure on Ellis’ medial and lateral meniscus.

Ellis is already recovering and receiving top medical care:

Some bullet points for a Draw a Bird Day:
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Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis (torn meniscus) to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

A.J. EllisThe Dodgers will be without starting catcher A.J. Ellis this week and beyond.

Ellis has a torn meniscus in his left knee and will undergo arthroscopic surgery Tuesday morning in Los Angeles, the team announced. The team is expected to announce a timetable for recovery, as well as a corresponding roster move, after the procedure.

In October 2012, Ellis had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee after playing 133 games in his first major-league season as the Dodgers’ starting catcher.

Ellis, who turns 33 in two days, was batting .167 (4 for 24) with four walks in seven games this season. Last year, Ellis played 115 games and batted .238/.318/.364. He was a finalist for the National League Gold Glove award.

Drew Butera started in Ellis’ place in the Dodgers’ 6-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, but the Dodgers did not announce the injury at the time. The team had a day off Monday.

There are only three catchers on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster: Ellis, Butera and Tim Federowicz, who served as Ellis’ backup last season.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis: “It didn’t feel like Opening Day,” and other Game 1 observations.

SYDNEY — If we were to focus just on the baseball, Opening Day followed a very predictable script. Clayton Kershaw was the best pitcher in the ballpark. The Dodgers’ bullpen followed a predictable order of Chris Perez (⅓ of an inning), Brian Wilson (1 inning) and Kenley Jansen (1 inning) in closing out the game without allowing a run. Paul Goldschmidt didn’t waste a single at-bat but the Dodgers have a deeper lineup, and found a way to score more runs than their opponent. The final score was 3-1 and you can read about the game here.

Also, if we were to focus just on the baseball, we would completely miss the point of staging Opening Day on another continent 12,000 kilometers — about 7,500 miles, if this conversion app is working right — away from Los Angeles.

“No, it didn’t feel like Opening Day,” Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. “It felt like a game that we’re playing here trying to bring baseball to Australia. We knew this game counted, and this game could be a difference between us making and not making the playoffs. We had that passion and that energy behind the game. There was a different attitude today in the clubhouse, a different attitude in batting practice. As far as feeling like Opening Day, I can’t honestly say in my experience it totally was like Opening Day.”

Ellis is unique among the Dodger players. He came to Sydney in November of last year, along with Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin, on a goodwill tour to drum up interest in the two season-opening games in Sydney. It’s fair to say he was more personally invested in the non-baseball aspects of the game than his teammates. Attendance fell short of a sellout by little more than 4,000 fans.

About those fans. As I warned, they weren’t the savviest bunch. They cheered loudly at the sight of the game’s first foul ball, a rare souvenir that means something completely different in baseball than cricket. Thrice a batter fouled a ball atop the roof overhanging the seats behind home plate. On one occasion, the ball remained lodged on the roof; the other two times it fell back toward the waiting hands of the crowd.

When Scott Van Slyke hit the first and only home run of the game — of the season, no less — it landed into a near-empty section of seats just beyond the right-field fence. There were two empty swaths of seats in the outfield, a virtual impossibility in the U.S.

Here, the home run elicited less a reaction than the first foul ball.

“Toronto was like that when we first started going there,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, “but it didn’t take long.”

A few more notes and observations:
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Carl Crawford scratched from Dodgers’ lineup against the Arizona Diamondbacks as a precaution.

Carl Crawford

Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford will miss Thursday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Associated Press photo)

There were a couple early-morning changes to the Dodgers’ lineup Thursday.

Carl Crawford was removed as a precaution with tightness in his upper right leg. Crawford said that his hamstring was “a little tight” Wednesday, “just the whole day.” The 32-year-old outfielder had an adventure in the field, overrunning a fly ball in the first inning that fell for a triple, and also scored from first base on Yasiel Puig‘s third-inning double.

Crawford said his hamstring felt fine Thursday morning and that he wouldn’t be restricted from anything other than playing in the game. Last year, Crawford missed 30 games with a strained left hamstring.

Manager Don Mattingly said that the issue is with Crawford’s quadriceps muscle and not his hamstring; Crawford had the entire upper leg wrapped after Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Diamondbacks. Regardless, Mattingly said that Crawford would get another day off Saturday and potentially return to the lineup Saturday when the Dodgers play the Milwaukee Brewers.

Catcher A.J. Ellis reported to camp with the flu and was sent home. “He didn’t look great,” Mattingly said. Ellis is expected back Friday.

Zack Greinke is scheduled to throw two innings and the starters are expected to play five. The game is set to begin at 1 p.m. (noon Pacific) from Camelback Ranch. Here are the lineups for both teams:

Dodgers Diamondbacks
Dee Gordon 2B Tony Campana CF
Andre Ethier CF Cliff Pennington 2B
Hanley Ramirez SS Chris Owings SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B Mike Jacobs 1B
Yasiel Puig RF Matt Tuiasosopo RF
Mike Baxter LF Jake Lamb 3B
Juan Uribe 3B Shelley Duncan DH
Tim Federowicz C Danny Dorn LF
Alex Guerrero 2B Tuffy Gosewich C
(Zack Greinke P) (Randall Delgado P)

Daily Distractions: Some not-so-final thoughts on home plate collisions.

Brian Jordan

Home plate collisions are rare and exciting, but their elimination was a calculated risk by Major League Baseball. (Associated Press photo)

In my story for today’s newspaper about the Dodgers’ reactions to the new rule banning home-plate collisions, I focused on the micro: The thoughts in the moment, the individual experiences that gave birth to the thoughts in the moment.

Here are some big-picture figures and facts worth mentioning:

A.J. Ellis is entering his 12th season of professional baseball. He’s played 890 games and estimates that he’s been part of “a dozen or more” home-plate collisions in his career.

Tim Federowicz is entering his seventh season of professional baseball. He’s played 568 games and has been involved in two collisions.

Drew Butera is entering his 10th professional season. Six hundred ninety two games, “five or six” collisions.

In reality, the scope of Rule 7.13 banning home-plate collisions in baseball is extremely limited. The three catchers on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster have played a total of 2,150 professional games — the equivalent of 13 full seasons, and then some — and have been part of a total of 20 collisions. Let’s call it one collision every 100 games.

The plays are memorable precisely because they are rare. “In all of them,” Butera said of his collisions, “they were in close games, toward the end of the game.” Fans remember those kind of plays.

That said, the tradeoff for the league was a calculated one.

Those are the facts, and baseball isn’t hiding them. If anything, the tipping point might have been when Joe Mauer visited the Mayo Clinic following a concussion and came back a first baseman.

Still, Federowicz wasn’t convinced that he’s entirely safer because of the rule.

“Instead of being able to hit us in the chest,” he said, “they have to take out our knees. I guess we have to learn a new technique for tagging guys out.”

Remember, rule 7.13 is “experimental” for this season. If catchers are still in line for serious injuries, the league will simply change the rule.

Some bullet points for a Soviet Occupation Day:
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Dodgers avoid arbitration with A.J. Ellis; catcher signs 1-year, $3.55 million contract.

The Dodgers avoided arbitration with catcher A.J. Ellis on Saturday, agreeing to a 1-year, $3.55 million contract.

Ellis requested a $4.6 million salary when figures were exchanged Jan. 17; the Dodgers countered with $3.0 million. He’ll earn something below the exact midpoint ($3.8 million) but still gets a nice raise over his $2 million salary from 2013.

The 32-year-old batted .238/.318/.364 in 115 games last season, while his 3.06 catchers’ ERA led all major-league starting catchers.

Closer Kenley Jansen is the Dodgers’ only remaining arbitration-eligible player. He’s requested a $5.05 million salary and the Dodgers have countered at $3.5 million. Asked Saturday if he anticipates a deal getting done before the two sides head to arbitration, general manager Ned Colletti said only that “it takes two.”

An arbitration hearing date hasn’t been set.

Daily Distractions: California Superior Court judge tosses class-action lawsuit against Dodgers, Lakers, TWC.

SportsNet LA

The Dodgers’ new network, SportsNet LA, is launching Feb. 25. (Photo courtesy of SportsNet LA via Facebook)

A California Superior Court judge tossed out a class-action lawsuit filed against the Dodgers, Lakers, and Time Warner Cable on Tuesday, citing federal laws designed to protect the rights of cable providers. Judge Amy D. Hogue ruled that California’s Unfair Competition Law couldn’t be invoked to relieve Time Warner subscribers of the burden of unwanted fees or channels.

This blog space has focused on the Dodgers’ $8 billion, 25-year television contract to the extent that it impacts the team and its fans — the Time Warner subscribers who are bracing for a rate hike, and non-TWC subscribers who are being asked to “Demand Your Dodgers Now.” That makes sense. This is a Dodgers blog, after all.

But what about the non-Dodger (and non-Laker) fans who don’t want to pay for two channels they don’t plan to watch? That’s the group who filed the class-action suit. Their lead attorney, Max Blecher, summarized their position: “People should have the right to say ‘no.’ ”

Here’s how that position was eloquated in Judge Hogue’s nine-page ruling:

1. TWC plans to pass some the cost of its licensing deal with the Dodgers to its enhanced basic cable customers by increasing the cost of service by an estimated $4 to $5 per month. The Dodgers … knew and consented to the fact that the costs of the licensing agreement would be passed on to TWC enhanced basic cable customers without an opportunity for customers to opt-out of including those channels in their enhanced basic cable subscription.

2. TWC customers who subscribe to the enhanced basic cable package have no way of unsubscribìng from the costs of the Dodgers and Lakers networks, despite the fact that up to 60 percent of customers would do so if given the choice.

In response, TWC contended that the plaintiffs “entirely fail to address the ‘safe harbor effect’ of the CCA” — the federal law that allows cable providers to “bundle” channels in the same manner as SportsNet LA and TWC SportsNet (the Lakers’ network). The federal “safe harbor” law takes priority over California’s Unfair Competition Law. The judge agreed.

Blecher said he might file a notice of appeal if it can be argued that the judge’s ruling went too far. So this fight might not be over. The plaintiffs have at least one strong ally in Congress.

Some bullet points for a hump day:
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Daily Distractions: Who will be the next Hall of Fame inductee with a Dodgers logo on his cap?

Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux pitched 23 games, regular and postseason, in separate stints with the Dodgers in 2006 and 2008. (Getty Images)

Greg Maddux won’t have a logo on his Baseball Hall of Fame cap. It was never going to be a Dodgers logo, but that got me to thinking: Who will be the next Hall of Fame inductee with a Dodgers logo on his cap?

The Hall of Fame has a list of future candidates, listed by year of eligibility. (They haven’t gotten around to scratching Bobby Abreu‘s name off the 2018 list, assuming Abreu makes the Phillies’ roster.) Another future eligible is still on the Dodgers’ payroll (Andruw Jones). Jeff Weaver and Chan Ho Park become eligible in 2016.

Among the serious candidates, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield did some of their best work in Dodgers uniforms.

Manny is 14th on the career home run list, and ninth in career slugging percentage and OPS. But he spent eight seasons in Cleveland and eight in Boston before his brief tenure as a Dodger. He also failed a drug test. Given the current climate toward known PED users among Hall voters, that won’t bode well for Ramirez. It didn’t bode well for the candidacy of Rafael Palmeiro (12th on the career home run list, off the ballot next year).

Sheffield played for eight teams in 22 seasons. If that doesn’t scream “please don’t put a logo on my hat,” I don’t know what does. And despite his gaudy career numbers, they aren’t much gaudier than those of Jeff Bagwell (listed on 54.3 percent of ballots this year) or Larry Walker (10.2 percent). He also took a designer steroid by his own admission, albeit by accident, and that might be enough to earn a thumbs-down from three-quarters of Hall voters.

Looking at the current ballot, Mike Piazza will wear a Mets hat if he gets in. Jeff Kent (listed on 15.2 percent of recent ballots) isn’t getting in.

In reality, you might be looking at someone on the current roster — one of these four — but only if their skills, health and the voters cooperate. Don’t hold your breath.

Some bullet points for a Pie Day:
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Kenley Jansen, A.J. Ellis fail to reach agreements with Dodgers prior to 10 a.m. deadline.

The Dodgers failed to reach agreements on a new contract with catcher A.J. Ellis and closer Kenley Jansen prior to Friday’s 10 a.m. deadline for arbitration-eligible players. Jansen and Ellis are both eligible for arbitration, and will have their cases heard before an arbitration panel in February if they can’t come to an agreement on a new contract with the Dodgers by then.

Soon, we’ll have the salary figures that the team and each player has submitted for arbitration. The Dodgers have been busy this week finalizing a seven-year, $215 million contract with Clayton Kershaw. It figures that negotiations with Ellis and Jansen took a back burner to Kershaw, and each could have a new contract in the coming weeks.

No player has taken the Dodgers to arbitration since 2007, when relief pitcher Joe Beimel lost his case. Three years before that, the Dodgers won their arbitration case with closer Eric Gagne.

Ellis became arbitration-eligible for the first time last year. He’s coming off a 1-year, $2 million contract. Jansen is eligible for the first time and stands to get a significant raise after leading the Dodgers in saves each of the last two seasons.