5/15/2014 2:26 A.M. ET
Dodgers come to the aid of local families
By Earl Bloom and Alyson Footer / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- When a fire swept through the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission earlier this month, everything belonging to the 15 families staying there -- which wasn't a lot to begin with -- was lost.
Clothing, blankets, toiletries, supplies -- gone. Trucks that deliver food to needy families in the community -- destroyed.
Thirty residents of the shelter, many of whom are children, were sleeping when the fire broke out. All escaped unhurt, leaving behind nothing but rubble and ashes.
The Dodgers, in conjunction with Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF), stepped in on Wednesday, hosting the families from the mission for the series finale with the Marlins.
During a pregame presentation, several players presented their guests with Dodgers blankets, a gesture inspired by one young boy who identified his blanket as his most prized possession lost in the fire.
The Dodgers and the LADF have organized a mission of their own, and invite fans to donate monetary gifts by visiting dodgers.com/ladf. They also encourage people to drop by Lot 1 at Dodger Stadium on Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to drop off new or gently worn clothing and shoes, new or used blankets, bedding and towels, toiletries, baby items, and canned and dry food items.
The damage sustained by the mission included the destruction of its emergency shelter, vehicle fleet, clothing warehouse and food pantry, which are vital in aiding those in need in the San Fernando Valley.
In other words, they have to start over, completely from scratch.
During an on-field interview, a spokesperson from the shelter expressed appreciation for the outpouring of support from the community and from the Dodgers but stressed that the work is far from over -- another $2.5 million is needed to continue, and complete, the rebuilding.
Ellis back behind the dish for Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- The last time A.J. Ellis caught left-hander Paul Maholm was on April 5, against the Giants, the night he injured his left knee trying to score from second on a hit.
"We've come full cycle," said Ellis, who was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday and teamed with Maholm against the Marlins at Dodger Stadium.
Ellis caught consecutive games for Triple-A Albuquerque in a rehab stint, and even attempted to steal a base.
"Sad to report, my speed has remained consistently bad," Ellis said of being thrown out on that attempt -- which wasn't a final test of his fitness, he added.
"No, it was just playing baseball. It was something I asked [the Isotopes staff, saying] that I just wanted to be treated like a regular baseball player."
Both Ellis and manager Don Mattingly praised the work done in Ellis' absence by Drew Butera, Tim Federowicz and Miguel Olivo (the latter two now back with Albuquerque), but the Dodgers are delighted to have their No. 1 catcher since 2012 back in action.
"He knows our system and what we try to do [pitching-wise], and he's a big part of that," Mattingly said.
"It was a long five weeks," said Ellis, who underwent surgery on April 8. "It was tough at times to be sitting on the sidelines and watching my teammates out there battling."
He said the best part of his rehab was "just to have that normal, next-day soreness, without anything flaring up in the knee area."
Mattingly projected that he will use Ellis on a regular basis, as always, depending on how he feels and what the medical staff advises.
Butera will serve as Ellis' backup.
Catcher Butera takes mound for Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Not even the 94-mph fastball he used to strike out Marcell Ozuna to end the ninth could bring a smile to the face of backup catcher-turned-reliever Drew Butera after Wednesday night's 13-3 loss to the Marlins.
"It wasn't fun," said Butera, who also pitched a scoreless inning for the Twins in 2012 against the Brewers (striking out Carlos Gomez). "It wasn't fun, because we were down, we were losing, which is why I was in there."
Butera's father, Sal, also a Major League catcher, also made two scoreless one-inning appearances in his long career. Butera said his father texted him after he struck out as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth.
"He said I looked like a pitcher batting," Butera said.
But he retired Christian Yelich on a fly to center and Ed Lucas on a grounder to second before striking out Ozuna. "I blacked out [on the last fastball], I didn't know what happened," he said.
"I went up to [Butera] and told him, 'Thanks for making pitching look so easy,'" said starter Paul Maholm, who gave up 10 runs (five earned) on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Asked the last level he pitched before doing it for the Twins (in a game won by current teammate Zack Greinke), Butera said, "High school. But only when my dad wasn't around. He didn't want me to hurt my arm."
With Ellis back, Olivo returns to Isotopes
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers optioned catcher Miguel Olivo to Triple-A Albuquerque before Wednesday night's game against the Marlins.
The move corresponded with the activation of primary catcher A.J. Ellis from the 15-day disabled list. Ellis was in the lineup on Wednesday for the first time since sustaining an injury to his left knee on April 6 and undergoing surgery two days later.
Olivo, 35, appeared in eight games, hitting .217 with with two RBIs. A Major Leaguer since 2002, when he broke in with the White Sox, he signed an advance-consent waiver that allowed the Dodgers to option him despite his service time. He began this season with the Isotopes after not making the 25-man roster as a spring invitee.
Mattingly gives Kemp day off
LOS ANGELES -- Center fielder Matt Kemp was not in the lineup on Wednesday against Marlins right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who was making his Major League debut straight from Double-A Jacksonville.
Kemp had started six games in a row and hit in all of them, batting .391 with a home run and three RBIs in that stretch.
"This is really more of a day [off] for Matt," manager Don Mattingly said. "Matt's been going pretty hard. I wanted him to kind of take advantage of the off-day [on Thursday]."
Andre Ethier started in center field for the 13th time this season. Kemp's started 29 games there, plus one game as designated hitter.
• The Dodgers went 18-16 in Ellis' absence. They are 4-3 when he starts, with Butera having the best record (11-4) among his replacements.
Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com. Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.