Grandal getting practice catching Kershaw
Though Ellis likely will pair with Dodgers ace, new backstop prepping
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yasmani Grandal said he expects A.J. Ellis to get most of the catching starts for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw because of their successful history, but he'll be ready just in case.
Manager Don Mattingly said earlier that Ellis won't be Kershaw's personal catcher and provided further proof Sunday by having Grandal catch Kershaw's second bullpen session of the spring.
Grandal said he will handle the situation much as he did with Tyson Ross and the Padres last year. Ross usually threw to Rene Rivera, and Grandal said the first time he caught Ross, he struggled with Ross' nasty sinker. So Grandal volunteered to catch Ross' bullpen sessions to get more familiar with him and was more comfortable in a few late-season starts with Ross pitching.
Grandal said he also has already talked to Ellis about how the Padres approached facing Kershaw. Last year, the Padres hit only .110 against Kershaw. But in 2013, they tagged him for three of his nine defeats.
"We felt we had a good game plan against him," Grandal said. "I've told A.J. what we tried to do. Basically, it's stay on his heater. Where? You don't know. He's one of the best getting swings and misses. You know he's going to pound you."
Grandal was asked if it was more comfortable catching Kershaw than batting against him, and he pointed out that the stats say otherwise. Grandal is 5-for-14 with a double lifetime against Kershaw, but also five strikeouts.