Opening Day intrigue: A.J. Ellis over Yasmani Grandal

LOS ANGELES -- It sounds as if Clayton Kershaw wasn’t too keen on working with catcher Yasmani Grandal, at least not yet.

Though Grandal was the key acquisition in the trade that sent Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres last December and likely will be the Dodgers’ front-line catcher this season, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he went with Kershaw’s preference on Opening Day. Kershaw and A.J. Ellis are close friends and have worked together productively for years. Kershaw won the National League MVP and Cy Young awards last season.

Mattingly had insisted all spring he didn’t want Ellis to become Kershaw’s personal catcher. Grandal caught Kershaw twice in Arizona. One went poorly, the other went well.

“Obviously, we’re always going to take into consideration what Clayton prefers,” Mattingly said. “We’ve talked to Clayton a lot about this. Guys have preferences. We’d really like our catching situation to be one where guys trust both guys and they’re all involved in meetings and calling pitches and how they attack.”

To the surprise of few, Joc Pederson was the Dodgers’ Opening Day center fielder. Andre Ethier was not in the Dodgers’ Opening Day lineup for the first time since 2006. Mattingly said he promised Ethier on Saturday to do his best “to keep him fresh,” but that could be a difficult task since the only players Mattingly might sub Ethier in for, Pederson and Carl Crawford, also hit left-handed.

Mattingly said he has discussed roles with some relievers, but refused to give any insight into who would be given the first chance to pitch in late-inning situations. Chris Hatcher likely will get the first chance to close while Kenley Jansen is out.

“You’ll have to stay tuned for that one,” Mattingly said.

The Opening Day lineups:


Wil Myers CF

Derek Norris C

Matt Kemp RF

Justin Upton LF

Will Middlebrooks 3B

Jedd Gyorko 2B

Yonder Alonso 1B

Clint Barmes SS

James Shields RHP


Jimmy Rollins SS

Yasiel Puig RF

Adrian Gonzalez 1B

Howie Kendrick 2B

Carl Crawford LF

Juan Uribe 3B

Joc Pederson CF

A.J. Ellis C

Clayton Kershaw LHP