PHOENIX -- After revealing that two-time All-Star Russell Martin would miss four to six weeks with a pulled groin muscle, manager Joe Torre on Sunday gave every indication that he's comfortable turning over the bulk of the Spring Training catching duties to rookie A.J. Ellis. "I have no hesitation at all," Torre said of catching Ellis, who has 12 games of Major League service and a .077 career batting average. "He handles a game well. He's a tireless worker. Being a former catcher, I know how important the defensive end is. He's made himself a good hitter, he's a grinding type of guy. I've seen him enough to be comfortable with it." Torre added that 40-year-old Brad Ausmus would share time with Ellis this spring, as he would have with Martin. Torre said once the season starts, he would figure out the "right balance" of playing time.
"Ausmus has caught every day, and he brings a lot to the table with his experience, but I certainly don't want to run him into the ground either," said Torre. Over the winter, general manager Ned Colletti said he was comfortable having Ellis as Martin's backup if Ausmus had decided to retire. Torre said he had not discussed with Colletti going outside the organization for a replacement. "I'm not out right now looking for a catcher who can start for the Dodgers," Colletti said. "If Russell is going to be out for the entire season, it'd be something we'd think about, but not if it's going to be maybe two weeks into the season that he'll miss." Ellis (A.J. stands for Andrew James) broke out in a big smile when told that Torre called him a grinding type of guy. "That's an awesome compliment," he said. "I've been that my whole career. I don't want to be an easy out." Despite the 1-for-13 career stats at the plate, Ellis said he's "absolutely ready" for the duties, "but you've still got to play well. Nothing is taken for granted in this game."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.