WASHINGTON -- If three games is a trend, rookie A.J. Ellis has become the designated catcher for knuckleballer Charlie Haeger.
Manager Joe Torre said he doesn't like "designated catchers," because it leaves the alternate ill-prepared when needed, especially when it comes to catching the difficult knuckleball. He said Ellis got the call again because first-string catcher Russell Martin took Friday night off instead of Saturday when given the choice by Torre.
Ellis is just grateful for the playing time, although he concedes it's a challenge.
"You have to let the ball get on you and make a late decision," he said of catching the knuckler. "You can't anticipate anything."
Ellis said he studied tape of Doug Mirabelli, who had extensive experience catching Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
"But Charlie has a different knuckleball than Wakefield, because Charlie's velocity is a little firmer," Ellis said. "Charlie does a good job of mixing it up. He has one that darts, and then he slows one down and it just floats into the strike zone."
Ellis said it's frustrating whenever a pitch gets past a catcher, even when it's almost expected with a knuckleball.
"You have to have a one-pitch memory," he said. "I might have caught that one, but I have to be ready for the next one."