Kershaw: Ellis trade 'tremendous subtraction'

'It's not going to be easy,' Dodgers ace says of batterymate's absence

Kershaw: Ellis trade 'tremendous subtraction'

LOS ANGELES -- Because life goes on, Clayton Kershaw threw a 60-pitch bullpen session on Friday and said he would face hitters next week. He also spoke for the first time about the trade of good friend and batterymate A.J. Ellis.

"It's been a rough couple of days," said Kershaw. "Just a really abrupt ending. A.J. kind of described it as a car wreck. This might have been our last season together, but we've been saying that for four years and it keeps working out. We realize what a huge blessing it was to have that time. But you see each other every day all season and you take it for granted a little bit."

Ellis was dealt with Minor League pitcher Tommy Bergjans and cash to the Phillies for veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz, who started Friday night and will back up Yasmani Grandal. Management viewed the 37-year-old Ruiz as an incremental offensive upgrade over the 35-year-old Ellis against left-handed pitching, against which the Dodgers have struggled all year.

Kershaw said he had no issue with Ruiz and he wouldn't address the reasoning of the trade. Instead, often still speaking in the present tense, he provided a thoughtful explanation why trading away a .194 hitter would elicit such emotion throughout the organization.

"The pitcher-catcher relationship is pretty one-sided -- we get all the credit, we take all the blame, and the catcher is just there," he said. "A.J. prepares harder than any of us and for 12 different guys every series. He has a servant's heart, he really does. It's not going to be easy."

Justice on Dodgers adding Ruiz

Kershaw reminded the media that Ellis had a few solid offensive seasons and exceptional postseason success (.365 in 17 games). But Ellis was known best for intangibles hard to measure.

"Carlos Ruiz is awesome, I've heard nothing but great things, but it's a tremendous subtraction to this team, no doubt about it. Not only what he brought to me, one of my best friends, but I think everybody. He really brought that presence that not a lot of people have, that he can get along with everybody and really help everybody's careers. That's something that's not easily replaced.

"I just see A.J. leaving. Like I said, Carlos Ruiz comes highly recommended from a lot of different guys. Cares about the game. Chase [Utley, a Ruiz teammate in Philadelphia] loves him to death, so that tells you all you need to know right there. But I don't think of the corresponding moves. I just think about A.J. leaving."

Kershaw, on the disabled list for nearly two months with a herniated disk in his back, said "it wasn't a very good bullpen, but physically I feel fine." He said he was excited for the next step, which he said is to face hitters.

Brett Anderson, on the disabled list with a finger blister, also threw a bullpen session and said he hopes to face hitters next week, too.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.