Ellis, Haeger ready for 2010 debuts
MIAMI -- A.J. Ellis will make his 2010 debut for the Dodgers on Sunday, when he will be in the starting lineup for the series finale at Florida. He will catch knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, the team's fifth starter, who also will be making his season debut.
Los Angeles Dodgers
"I caught Charlie a lot last year at Albuquerque," said Ellis, who was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday when backup catcher Brad Ausmus was put on the 15-day disabled list. "I don't think you ever get used to it. You just try to get as comfortable as you possibly can. If you let one get by you, you can't let it bother you or affect you, because you have to get ready for the next one."
Haeger is one of only a handful of knuckleballers in the majors, and the pitch is so unpredictable that catchers generally switch to a much larger mitt. But the Dodgers' catchers don't have to provide such a mitt because Haeger provides it for them. "He brings his own mitt with him wherever he goes," Ellis said.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre stressed that Ellis is catching Sunday because it's a day game after a night game, a situation in which Torre plans to rest regular catcher Russell Martin often. Torre said he won't fall into a trap of having one catcher assigned to catch all of Haeger's starts and that he is comfortable with Martin, Ausmus or Ellis catching Haeger.
"They can all catch him," Torre said. "That doesn't mean they're not going to whiff one every now and then, but I think they're comfortable."
Right fielder Andre Ethier, who isn't expected to start again until Tuesday's home opener against Arizona because of a left ankle injury, continues to improve. Torre said Ethier might be available to pinch hit during Saturday night's game at Florida.
With Vicente Padilla set to start against the Marlins on Saturday night, his first start since being rocked for seven runs by Pittsburgh on Opening Day, Torre said Padilla's biggest problem against the Pirates was command and that his breaking pitches appeared to be moving more horizontally than vertically. Padilla figured to have little margin for error against the Marlins, who were starting their own ace, Josh Johnson, a 15-game winner last year.
Torre said he hoped to stay away from closer Jonathan Broxton on Saturday night. After reliever Russ Ortiz failed to finish Friday night's game after coming in to start the ninth inning with a six-run lead, Torre had to bring in Broxton, who had pitched the previous day, to get the final two outs. If Saturday night's game presents a save situation, Torre said either George Sherrill or Ramon Troncoso will get the call.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.