Clayton Kershaw: A.J. Ellis Trade ‘Tremendous Subtraction’ From Dodgers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Kershaw completed a 60-pitch bullpen session on Friday, then broke his silence as it pertains to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ decision to trade former batterymate and close friend A.J. Ellis to the Philadelphia Phillies.

“It was hard, man. It was really hard,” Kershaw said of the surprising transaction. “Carlos Ruiz is awesome. Heard nothing but great things. But it’s a tremendous subtraction from this team. There’s no doubt about it.

“He really brought that presence that not a lot of people have, where you can get along with everybody, and really help everybody’s careers. That’s something that’s not easily replaced.”

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts lauded Ruiz for possessing some of the same strengths as Ellis.

Ruiz has also fared better at the plate this season, particularly against left-handed pitching, which was an area the Dodgers were looking to improve in.

Kershaw, however, wasn’t interested in potentially finding comfort in that reasoning. “I don’t even really think about it. I just see A.J. leaving,” he said.

“I’m not even going to let myself think about that. It’s just a really abrupt ending. A.J. kind of described it like a car wreck. We both knew that this might have been our last season together. But we’ve been saying that for four years, and it keeps working out.”

After being informed of the trade, Ellis and Kershaw sat in silence together in the dugout and wept. Drafted in 2003, Ellis was the longest-tenured Dodger.

He befriended Kershaw in the Minors, and two forged a strong bond playing for the only organization either knew, up until Thursday.

“We realized what a huge blessing it was to have that time. But when you see each other every day, you play with each other every day, you take it for granted a little bit,” Kershaw said. “That abrupt ending was tough.”

His affinity for Ellis isn’t meant as a slight toward Ruiz. “Like I said before, Carlos Ruiz comes highly recommended from a lot of different guys. Cares, loves the game. Chase loves him to death,” Kershaw explained.

“So that tells you all you need to know right there. But I don’t really think of the corresponding moves. I just think about A.J. leaving.”

While Kershaw is Ellis’ strongest ally in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, the backstop had close friendships with several others, including Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner. Both solemnly discussed the trade on Thursday and the impact losing Ellis has.

The adulation Ellis received was much deserved in Kershaw’s eyes, who highlighted Ellis’ success in the postseason. “Rightfully so. He’s meant a lot to this organization, he’s done a lot. Not only as the guy, everybody talks about the guy he was.

“He was pretty good there for a while, and one of the better postseason guys that we’ve ever had. There’s a lot to be said about his skill level, too. Absolutely. He meant a lot. He got drafted in 2003, so that’s a really long time.”

Kershaw resigned himself to the fact he won’t see much of Ellis, considering the 35-year-old makes a home in Milwaukee. On Thursday, Ellis wasn’t prepared to answer if he envisioned himself eventually returning to the Dodgers organization in a new capacity.