Good thing A.J. Ellis has come around offensively because you might be seeing a lot more of him behind the plate.
Yasmani Grandal has a sore shoulder that is radiating pain all over his upper body, and there is absolutely no assurance it will heal anytime soon.
Grandal did not play for four days, resting his left (non-throwing) shoulder before returning to the lineup Thursday in Chicago. He went hitless in four at-bats, bouncing into three double plays and striking out, while leaving seven runners on base.
This is not encouraging for someone who was coming off what passes for extensive rest this time of the season and who previously complained the pain affected his swing.
“It started out in the [trapezius], then went up to the neck, then went up to the middle back,” Grandal told The Times’ Dylan Hernandez prior to Thursday. “Then right rib, then left rib. The past couple days, it’s gotten better to where we could start strengthening that shoulder without having to worry about the rib, the back or the neck.”
Grandal was having a career year, with an impressive .295/.400/.513 slash line before taking a nasty foul ball off his left shoulder in Philadelphia three weeks ago. In 11 games since, he’s gone 3 for 34 with a .088/.205/.088 line. And he’s gone from hitting in the middle of the order to seventh and eighth.
This could be a lingering problem, or at least one that requires extensive rest and rehab. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Ellis’ rebirth has almost coincided with Grandal’s injury.
Ellis was struggling at the plate, hitting .171 at the end of June. From July 1 on, however, he has a .304/.448/.630 slash line, including four home runs.
Now having spent most of the year adjusting to being Grandal’s backup, he is well-rested for the stretch. And starting Sept. 1 when rosters can be expanded, look for the Dodgers to call catcher Austin Barnes back up from triple-A.
That could provide Grandal even more time to recover, time he clearly appears to need.