Ellis appreciates warm response to LA return

Marlins catcher starts, drives in run during loss on Sunday

Ellis appreciates warm response to LA return

LOS ANGELES -- Marlins catcher A.J. Ellis felt right at home squatting behind the plate at Dodger Stadium.

Ellis started the Marlins' 6-3 loss on Sunday, his first game action as a visitor at Chavez Ravine, where he played with the Dodgers for parts of nine seasons from 2008-16, going 1-for-4 with one RBI against the franchise that drafted and developed him.

"I'm not breaking news here when I say it's one of the most beautiful places to play in all of baseball," said Ellis, who became a fan favorite during his time in Los Angeles. "I feel really comfortable being back there behind the plate and in the batter's box. It's just a great place to play."

Ellis drove in the first run of the day for the Marlins, an opposite-field knock to right that scored Derek Dietrich in the fifth against Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy, who used to throw to Ellis. It was his first RBI of the year in his ninth start.

"It was nice to throw an RBI out there and get us on the board, get some momentum going," Ellis said.

Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon could relate to Ellis' homecoming. Gordon also rose through the Dodgers' system, albeit as a top prospect as opposed to Ellis, and played four seasons in L.A. before being traded to Miami after the 2014 season.

"Probably really good for his psyche," said Gordon, who doubled and scored a run. "I know how it is coming back. It's tough at first. The first game is tough on me still, and I've been coming back three years now, so I know it has to be tough for him."

It was a bit of an emotional four games for Ellis, who dined with good friend and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw Wednesday night. The Dodgers saluted Ellis with a video tribute before the series opener Thursday.

"That was really touching and totally unexpected," Ellis said. "My wife and I both were here, and it kind of blew us away. Very grateful and thankful for the Dodgers organization taking time to recognize our time in L.A. together. It was nice to be recognized in that way."

Marlins manager Don Mattingly appreciated the gesture, too. He managed Ellis with the Dodgers from 2011-15.

"They did a nice little thing for him the first day, so that was nice," Mattingly said. "The fans seemed to appreciate what he represented here. I think he's a guy that obviously handled himself with a lot of class over the years. He's a good teammate, he's a good guy and he deserves it."

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Marlins on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.