Ausmus making gradual recovery

Ausmus making gradual recovery

BOSTON -- Brad Ausmus, the Dodgers' forgotten backup catcher out two months after back surgery, is gradually recovering in hopes of a return this year.

Ausmus still has lingering effects from the wedge of disk that was pressing on a nerve. He said the numbness in his foot is gone, but some weakness remains and his running has been limited to a slow jog.

Otherwise, he is resuming baseball activities, having caught his first bullpen session earlier this week and rejoined the offense in taking batting practice before games.

Ausmus, 41, also continues to participate in meetings that precede the first game of every series. In addition to separate meetings the Dodgers routinely hold for hitters and pitchers, Ausmus leads an earlier meeting with fellow catchers Russell Martin and A.J. Ellis, as well as reliever Jeff Weaver.

Ausmus utilizes a computer program that illustrates "hot" and "cold" pitch tendencies for each hitter and brings with him a personal databank from nearly two decades in the big leagues. Weaver brings a veteran pitcher's perspective to the meeting, Ausmus said.