Pop quiz: Which Dodger in the last month batted .354, hit two home runs and four doubles, drove in 16 runs and posted a slugging percentage of .500?
The answer is
"The last two years I have felt like I could have been better with runners in scoring position, and that's something I concentrated on this winter and figured out ways I could get better," Ellis said before Monday's game.
"It just comes down to pitch selection," Ellis said.
On Sunday, Ellis had three hits against Tampa Bay — a single, double and two-run home run, thus coming up a triple shy of hitting for the cycle — and three runs batted in.
"I feel good, I felt good at the start of the season and then I got banged up a little bit and it took a while for me to get back on again," Ellis said.
Now in his 12th big league season, the 36-year-old Ellis sat out 19 games early this season because of a strained quadriceps in his right leg. The Dodgers were 6-13 in that span.
Entering Monday's game, Ellis had lifted his batting average in the last month to .280 from .261, and he has hit well both in his conventional second spot in the lineup and near the bottom of the order.
"Where I hit in the lineup, I could care less, it doesn't matter," he said. But Ellis added that when he bats second, he benefits when leadoff batter Carl Crawford reaches first base.
"When Carl gets on base I get better pitches, there's no doubt about it, because they're worried about him stealing second base," Ellis said of opposing pitchers.
Hanley Ramirez is close to returning
Hanley Ramirez is about ready to return, if not in the next day or two then perhaps when the Dodgers open a seven-game trip in Philadelphia on Friday, Manager
"I think he's going to be ready to play in a couple of days," Mattingly said of the shortstop, who's nursing a sore right shoulder.
"He's available to pinch-hit tonight, he was available last night to pinch-hit," Mattingly said.
The manager said he wanted to ensure Ramirez doesn't re-injure the shoulder when he steps back on the field.
"He may not play 100%" when he returns, "but it's got to be to the point where you're not going to hurt yourself, you're not going to go backwards," Mattingly said.