The fact that this was even a possibility, 15 days after the catcher had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, is a bit mind-boggling. Ellis has been taking batting practice regularly, caught Kershaw’s bullpen session Tuesday, and is running on an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill — the same one that got Matt Kemp in shape during spring training.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that the initial 4-6 week timetable is still in play for Ellis, but that could change soon enough.
In the meantime, a couple trends have emerged. Drew Butera has caught three of Zack Greinke‘s last four starts. The term “personal catcher” hasn’t entered the discussion yet, but the two have had high praise for each other and Mattingly might choose to keep them paired together, even after Ellis returns.
Tim Federowicz has caught 10 games to Butera’s six since Ellis went down, and has just four hits in 37 at-bats. Two of those hits have come since Paul Goldschmidt whacked him in the left hand over the weekend.
“Each day is getting better,” Federowicz said Wednesday. “Right now I’m really focused on my defense. Offense will come. I’m not worried about it.”
Can fans be so patient?
In spite of the fact that the two healthy catchers have a modest three-game hitting streak, Federowicz and Butera are still batting a combined .145 (8 for 55) since Ellis had his surgery. For his part, Ellis was batting just .167 (4 for 24) before going on the DL.
The Dodgers might have bigger problems than this one, so it’s flown a bit under the radar. Just don’t expect to see any catchers batting higher than eighth unless one, at last, catches fire.