Manager Don Mattingly #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the trainer look over A.J. Ellis after he was hit in the knee by a could ball against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 16, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Dodgers won 4-0.
A.J. Ellis is made of steel. It is the only explanation for him being in the starting lineup for Saturday's game. In Friday night's 4-0 Dodger victory over Cliff Lee and the Phillies, it looked as though the Dodgers might lose something much more important than a game, their starting catcher.
In the 8th inning a foul ball off the bat of Darin Ruff hit Ellis on the kneecap right above his protective catching gear. He immediately crawled away, and tried to walk it off, hobbling along the field. As trainer Sue Falsone and Don Mattingly checked him out, the TV broadcast showed a replay of the ball rocketing off of his knee, and it looked awfu.
Ellis was on the ground for a minute or two as he was shaken up, but it felt like forever in the minds of fans who were visualizing the worst case scenario of Ellis on the DL, or not being available for a few days. Needing to call up Drew Butera from the minors to backup Tim Federowicz was not something anyone wants to think about.
Miraculously, Ellis caught the rest of the inning, and stayed in the game for the ninth as well. Immediately after he stayed in the game, the feeling among fans was that he better get the next day off after that! But of course, there he is in the starting lineups against the Phillies on Saturday, he says he feels fine. Seriously, the man is made of steel.
So the Dodgers keep A.J. in the lineup, and now Andre Ethier also makes his return after sitting out three games with pain in his calf, but pinch hitting in two of them. This feels like the first time this season the team has caught a break injury-wise, and it is more than welcome.
A month and a half ago, Ellis' knee cap would have exploded and Ethier would have needed surgery. Now with Matt Kemp back soon, this team is (knock on wood) at full health, something they have not experienced all season long.
Let's just say that the Dodgers will be extremely relieved if they can stay healthy right now, with a nine-game winning streak, and 41 wins in their last 49 games.