Ellis catching on to baseball Down Under

BASEBALL: LA Dodgers catcher AJ Ellis will spend countless hours crouching just 18m away from pitcher Zack Greinke during the American summer, working in tandem on how to strike out the world's best batters.

But that won't happen during the Major League's historic opening two-game series, featuring the Dodgers and Arizona's Diamondbacks, at the SCG this weekend.

The $147 million man Greinke pulled out injured, after expressing "zero interest" in the long-haul trip.

While Ellis and Greinke will agree on many pitches, Ellis has strongly disagreed that this series, the first of its kind to come to Australia, will be a waste of time.

"Coming out of the clouds on the plane you see the Opera House which is such an iconic landmark. The design is so unique and so beautiful," Ellis told APN.

"The Harbour Bridge and the Cricket Ground, seeing the whole city open up, you start getting excited.

"Any feeling of fatigue you get from a pacific flight goes away immediately, because you're excited to be in such a great country with people who love sport."

Ellis, who re-signed at LA on a one-year $3.55 million deal last month, added the rivalry between west-coast clubs the Dodgers and Diamondbacks was a fierce one.

The 32-year-old got bragging rights in fine fashion last year, hitting the winning home run to secure the National League West crown.

"When you do something like that to help your team make the playoffs, it ranks up there as the greatest individual highlight of my career," Ellis said.

"This will be a great battle between two well-coached teams. Two teams that really get after each other and there's always a tooth and nail battle."

On the subject of great coaches, the Dodgers' manager is the legendary Don "Donnie Baseball" Mattingly.

Among his many achievements, Mattingly won the Golden Glove Award for best first baseman in the American League an astonishing nine times, while at the Yankees.

Mattingly recently praised Ellis for his high on-base play with the bat, and his defensive skills behind the plate.

"Don Mattingly is one of the greatest baseball players that we've had in the past few decades," Ellis said.

"And now to have him as my manager and for him to have confidence in me as a member of his team it means the world."

Ellis knows sloppy performances will not be tolerated by a typically hard-to-please Australian crowd.

"I watched some Ashes cricket and I'm learning some things about the game. I'm learning if you drop the ball you get booed hard and they wear you out," he said.