GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A.J. Ellis was as diplomatic as a catcher can be when asked about Major League Baseball's new rules on home-plate collisions.
"I understand they're trying to make the game safer, and I appreciate them wanting to protect the guys that play the position," said the Dodgers catcher. "It's a physically demanding position, and we know the risk of injury. It's part of what we signed up for. I just hope they don't use the rule to hide behind concussions. It's more for orthopedic injuries."
Ellis said he was part of the conversation with the Players Association as the terms of the rule were negotiated and said he fears that the rule change will take away "the game-changing or game-saving play that can be the difference between winning and losing."
"You can rob home runs and make tough plays up the middle, and I don't see them take those plays away," he said. "It's ingrained in us to block the plate."
Ellis said if the rule change is motivated by the serious ankle injury Giants catcher Buster Posey suffered in a collision three years ago, self-regulation might be a better route to take.
"Now it's like rules protecting quarterbacks in the NFL -- you want to keep your best players on the field," he said. "But the Giants took steps by not having Buster involved in plays where his body is in harm's way. In our organization, maybe I'm a little more expendable. That's where my value to the team lies."
Tim Federowicz, Ellis' backup, doesn't like the change either.
"I don't agree with it, but I guess we have to live with it," he said. "I didn't think it was going to pass. I guess I've got to learn a new technique tagging guys out. But when the ball takes you into the path of the runner, our priority is to catch the ball. There will be a lot more ejections and arguments."
Mattingly yet to announce Opening Series starters
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There were no surprises when Don Mattingly confirmed this week's starting rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren for the first four exhibition games, beginning Wednesday.
But Mattingly still won't be pinned down on who will start the first two games of the regular season during the Opening Series in Australia against the D-backs.
"We're getting four guys ready because we don't know what's going to happen between here and there," he said.
The Dodgers are considering holding back Kershaw because of workload concerns. Then there are the complicated roster rules that apply for the trip, as 30 players can make the flight with 25 active for the games. Up to three players can be designated as "exempt," meaning they can't play in Australia but can be activated for the March 30 game in San Diego.
One essentially ruled out by Mattingly for Australia is Josh Beckett, who is coming off surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Beckett is throwing well and hasn't had a setback, but he also is being given an extra day between throw days to focus on core strengthening.
Beckett is scheduled to throw to hitters on Tuesday, as are Brandon League (lat strain) and Paul Maholm (elbow tenderness).
Haren shares thoughts on Australia trip
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dan Haren lockers next to Zack Greinke, so after throwing two innings in Monday's scoreless intrasquad game, the Dodgers' new No. 4 starter was ready when lobbed the question about the upcoming Australia trip.
Greinke started an international firestorm when he said there was "absolutely zero excitement" for the trip. Haren was more diplomatic.
"It's a long trip for us, but we have to think of the game," Haren said. "The actual trip will be a lot to handle, especially for the starting pitchers. It's a lot to ask of a player."
Haren said he would be happy with pitching in one of the two Australia games against Arizona, but said manager Don Mattingly hasn't told the pitchers who will pitch or make the trip.
"It would stink to fly 30 hours and not pitch," Haren said.
He added that one of Greinke's concerns is playing baseball in the Sydney Cricket Grounds with a short left-field fence.
Haren sounded more concerned with the food, saying he was a "picky eater." He winced when asked if he would try kangaroo meat and volunteered that he's "never had fish in my life," even having turned down money to try it.
Reed is opening eyes at Dodgers camp
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While throwing two shutout innings in Monday's scoreless intrasquad game, Dodgers left-handed prospect Chris Reed struck out former Chattanooga Lookouts teammate Yasiel Puig.
"The scouting report is to bust him in because he likes to get his hands extended, then offspeed away," said Reed. "It's funny, when he got called up and made a lot of noise, we were wondering how long it would take the pitchers to figure it out. They did. And he made adjustments, too. It's a cat-and-mouse game."
Reed is a former first-round Draft pick out of Stanford who is being worked as a starting pitcher, although some believe his future is in relief. He hasn't received the attention of another former first-rounder, Zach Lee, or 17-year-old Mexican wunderkind Julio Urias, but Reed got the ball Monday and opened some eyes.
"Any time you go out and have success, it feels good," he said. "I was amped up. But I still have quite a few things to work on."
SportsNet LA announces launch availability
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- SportsNet LA, the Dodgers' new 24/7 network that launches on Tuesday, will be available to Time Warner Cable's customers in the Los Angeles area with standard TV service or above in high definition on channel 431 and in standard definition on digital channel 249.
The network announced on Monday that it will be available to Bright House Networks Standard customers in Bakersfield on channels 21 and 107 in SD and channel 1107 in HD.
The network launch comes one day before the Dodgers' exhibition opener against Arizona on Wednesday.
SportsNet LA is the result of a 25-year, $8.5 billion deal between the club and Time Warner Cable.
"We created SportsNet LA to give Dodger fans around-the-clock access to the team and are so excited to launch the network on Feb. 25," said Stan Kasten, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers. "We're thrilled that Dodger fans will be able to watch SportsNet LA's 24/7 Dodger programming on Bright House Networks from Day 1."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.