Ellis taking hot bat back to bench

Filling in for returning Grandal, Dodgers catcher has four homers in last 13 starts

Ellis taking hot bat back to bench

CINCINNATI -- Now that A.J. Ellis' bat has caught fire, he's headed back to the bench.

It's all part of the adjustment of being a backup, Ellis' role since the acquisition of Yasmani Grandal over the winter. Ellis has started the last three games behind the plate for the Dodgers, but Grandal is expected to return from a sore left shoulder for Thursday's series finale against the Reds.

After a rough start offensively, Ellis said a simplified approach has turned his season around and led to more games like Wednesday night, when he joined Scott Van Slyke and Yasiel Puig with fourth-inning homers in a 7-4 win over the Reds.

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"My bad habit is when I have free time, I tinker, tinker, tinker to make my swing the best I can," said Ellis. "The problem with that is that I'm in between swings every time I go to the plate. I made the decision to make it simple, and I feel I really took off."

Ellis said the timing came in mid-June. He recalls a single up the middle off Odrisamer Despaigne, running to first and saying to himself: "That's the swing I've missed, the one I had in '12 and '13 that made me the offensive player I was."

Going into that game, Ellis was batting .138. Since then, he's hit .346, which includes four home runs in his last 13 starts. He's reached base safely in 19 of his last 20 games.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.