By Jon Weisman
You might have seen Yasmani Grandal get clocked in the jaw by a foul ball Sunday, but he wasn’t the only Dodger catcher to come down wounded.
A.J. Ellis has right knee inflammation that has landed him on the 15-day disabled list.
It’s never a good time to lose a catcher, let alone two at once. And the injury to Ellis comes at a particularly unfortunate time, considering that the 34-year-old has had a .429 on-base percentage and .511 slugging percentage in 57 plate appearances since May 26.
Ellis has also thrown out six of 12 would-be basestealers in that time, with zero errors and one passed ball.
He was on the disabled list for 38 days last year because of surgery on his left knee in April, followed by a May trip to the disabled list after he sprained his ankle during the celebration of Josh Beckett’s no-hitter.
Dodger manager Don Mattingly told reporters today that Ellis could be ready to go before the week is out, but the Dodgers didn’t have the luxury of going with only one catcher while waiting. Ellis’ knee started getting tight on the plane ride to Atlanta and stiffened further in the middle of the night, according to Mattingly.
Grandal, of course, is six days removed from playing in the All-Star Game. He has a .399 OBP and .518 slugging percentage this season — .425/.594 since May 1. But he did not end up on the disabled list after all, and though he isn’t starting tonight, he is available, Mattingly said.
When Brandon Beachy makes his second MLB start of the season tonight, he’ll actually be throwing to the catcher who caught his last two minor-league rehab starts of 2015: Austin Barnes.
The 25-year-old Barnes, who went 1 for 5 with a walk while making his MLB debut with the Dodgers while Grandal was on the seven-day concussion disabled list, has a .385 OBP and .484 slugging percentage with Triple-A Oklahoma City, with 22 extra-base hits and 28 walks compared with 26 strikeouts.
Barnes was singled out for praise by another Dodger rejoining the team from Oklahoma City: Carl Crawford.
“I like him,” Crawford told Jacob Unruh of the Oklahoman. “He looked like a real good player. I think we’ll see him playing real good in the big leagues someday. They’ve got a lot of guys that can play, but he’s the guy that stood out the most to me.”
The expectation is that the Dodgers will activate Crawford from the 60-day disabled list Tuesday.