December 19, 2014

Brad Ausmus’ Birthday Present: Back Surgery

Tonight’s pre-game conversation with Joe Torre was dominated by the news that backup catcher Brad Ausmus (who is celebrating his 41st birthday today) will need back surgery tomorrow morning in Los Angeles to heal a herniated disc in his back.

“It’s tough. He had a little piece of the disc break off,” said Joe Torre.  Stan Conte added that Ausmus will need three months to “be competitive.”

The condition has left Ausmus uncomfortable sleeping and sitting.  “I don’t know if I was sad, having decided to have surgery,” said Ausmus. “Because if you were me, trying to sleep for the last week, every night and having to get up every three to five hours to walk around for 10 minutes to relieve the pain before you can lie back down…it’s not a lot of fun.  The strange part is walking around and moving is when it feels best.  It’s the sitting and the lying down that causes the shooting pain down the leg.”

Torre noted that A.J. Ellis will also get his reps.  “Ellis will catch and we’ll make sure we give Russell his time off. We have to.”

An injury like this is obviously more serious and could potentially have career-ending implications when you’re a 41 year-old catcher.  “We’re more concerned with him feeling better than what that means with his baseball future,” said Torre.  “It’s similar to when Mientkiewicz went down.  It’s just something you don’t count on right now. If everything goes well and he comes back, great, but it’s still too early to think about.

But in Ausmus’ mind, he’s coming back. “I signed a contract with the Dodgers to play a full season, and despite the fact that I’ll be injured for part of it, I’m going to fulfill the contract, unless they tell me to get out of here,” said the catcher. “If all goes according to plan, I should make the following road trip.”

With a sense of humor, Ausmus added, “Realistically, me missing three months, might only be seven or eight games overall.”

Other pre-game notes:

– Torre on the bullpen: “Right now we just need to get our bullpen straightened out.  We need to have an idea when we go down there what to expect.  Right now we’re not sure.  We feel the ability is there, it’s just a need to get a better result.  I’m not saying get roles for people, we just need to get a little more consistency from the guys down there – and get Sherrill straightened out.”

– Torre on Manny Ramirez’s home run yesterday and the subsequent curtain call: “That never hurts anybody’s ego.  He’s had good at bats.  I’m not as concerned about the home run as I am about the production. I’m pretty confident that he’s going to be very productive.”

– Relief pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo will pitch a rehab assignment in San Bernardino tomorrow night (20 pitches), followed by another game in San Bernardino.

– All Dodger players will be wearing the number 42 to honor Jackie Robinson on Thursday night (Jackie Robinson Day) and also on Friday, as the Giants are off on Thursday and the Dodgers don’t want them to be the only team with all their players wearing 42.

– Actor and talk show host Joe McHale (from “Community” and “Talk Soup”) will be throwing out the first pitch before tonight’s game.

– Finally, today is Tommy and Jo Lasorda’s 60th wedding anniversary.  Happy anniversary to both Tommy and Jo who are (of course) celebrating at the game tonight!

Photo credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers 2009


  1. Chris,

    Excellent report. Thanks for all the information. Also pitching in San Bernardino tomorrow night (after Kuo, of course) is Ethan Martin, so it should be a fun night in SB (sadly I can’t make it though) and for search engine optimization :)

  2. Thanks, Eric! I’d also love to be in SB to see Kuo and Martin in action, but have a freelance assignment to handle. Oh well, I’ll take the periodic night at Chavez Ravine!