Daily Distractions: Clayton Kershaw joins an exclusive group of Dodgers All-Stars.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher to appear in three consecutive All-Star Games. (Associated Press)

Clayton Kershaw didn’t start the All-Star Game — Matt Harvey did — though he did join a different exclusive group Tuesday.

Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher ever to throw in three straight All-Star games. He fared better than the last Dodgers pitcher to do so; Eric Gagné gave up a solo home run in the 2002 game to Alfonso Soriano, allowed three runs in one inning the following year, and tossed a scoreless inning in his final All-Star appearance in 2004.

Fernando Valenzuela pitched two scoreless innings in the 1984 All-Star game, one scoreless inning in relief of Nolan Ryan the following year, then pitched three (!) scoreless innings in his final All-Star appearance in 1986.

Don Newcombe (1949-51) is the other. Like Gagné, his third and final All-Star appearance was the only one in which he didn’t allow a run.

Whit Wyatt, Ralph Branca and Sandy Koufax were all chosen to pitch in three straight All-Star Games or more, but for various reasons did not.

Of course, some were still focused on one Dodger who wasn’t in the game Tuesday.

The American League won the game, 3-0, and will have home-field advantage in the World Series. Mariano Rivera threw a scoreless inning, was named MVP and will be responsible for every baby born today in New York City named “Mariano,” “Mo” or, perhaps, “Sandman.”

Some bullet points for a Slovakian Independence Day:

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Daily Distractions: When is a team meeting not newsworthy?

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig scored the Dodgers’ only run Sunday against the Colorado Rockies. (Getty Images)

The Dodgers had a team meeting yesterday.

When a team is playing poorly, that might be seen as newsworthy. Yesterday, the meeting was short (about 15 minutes) and upbeat. It was a pat on the back and a reminder of the message going forward.

“We’ve kind of gotten our confidence now and we’re playing well,” Mattingly said before the Dodgers lost to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday. “We’ve got some momentum. So the biggest thing now is to be ready to play. We need to be ready to play and not come out of the break like we’re still on it.”

Mattingly said he congratulated the players for their improved effort, which was reflected in the Dodgers’ 17-5 record in their last 22 games. After the game, I asked if that went beyond Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig, who both flirted with .400 batting averages after debuting in early June.

The short answer was yes. He mentioned a few more names that I’ll include in my midseason report card that comes out soon.

The Home Run Derby is tonight. No Dodgers are participating.

The All-Star Game is tomorrow.

Some bullet points for a Monday morning:

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Dodgers targeting next weekend for Matt Kemp’s return.

The Dodgers won’t have to wait long for Matt Kemp to return from the disabled list.

“A couple days into the break,” manager Don Mattingly said. “He looks like Sunday or something.”

Sunday is the final game of the Dodgers’ three-game series against the Washington Nationals. From there, they will travel to Toronto for a three-game interleague series against the Blue Jays beginning Monday, July 22.

Kemp was shut down with inflammation in the AC joint of his left shoulder on July 6.

Mattingly said that he’d like Kemp to get some rehabilitation games in first.

The Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are off Tuesday and play in Stockton Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts play a five-game series in Birmingham, Alabama, beginning Thursday. The Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes are at home for four games beginning Thursday, perhaps making New Mexico the most likely destination if Kemp goes on a rehab stint.

Also unresolved is the question of a corresponding roster move, and who sits among an outfield of Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig. It’s an enviable problem to have.

“I like the problem of four guys,” Mattingly said. “It gives us a lot of different combinations.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly thinks Clayton Kershaw deserves to start the All-Star Game.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is the Dodgers’ lone representative at Tuesday’s All-Star game in New York. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly thinks the pitcher with the majors’ lowest earned-run average deserves to start the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

His opinion, obvious as it may seem, isn’t shared by everyone. That might even include Clayton Kershaw, he of the 1.98 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 5.1 wins above replacement — all of which lead Major League Baseball.

“I don’t know why not,” Mattingly said. “I heard what he said about (New York Mets pitcher Matt) Harvey. That’s classy. That tells you a lot about Clayton. But I feel he’s good enough to be the guy.”
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Dodgers set post All-Star break rotation.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced his starting rotation coming out of the All-Star break, when the Dodgers will travel to Washington D.C. and Toronto for a pair of three-game series.

Ricky Nolasco, today’s starter, will pitch on five days’ rest next Friday against the Nationals. He’ll be followed by Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Capuano.

If that rotation order holds, Greinke and Kershaw will be the starters July 30 and 31 when the New York Yankees visit Dodger Stadium.

In other rotation news, Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt have decided on a plan for injured left-hander Ted Lilly, but the manager wouldn’t say what that plan is.

Lilly, who’s been on the disabled list since June 9 with a sprained neck, is 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in five starts this season.

“We talked about some different scenarios,” Mattingly said. “We settled on the one we want. We haven’t talked to Teddy yet.”

Carl Crawford scratched from Dodgers’ lineup with back injury.

Carl CrawfordCarl Crawford was a late lineup scratch from the Dodgers’ game against the Colorado Rockies with back stiffness.

“I think it’s minor,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Carl’s a guy we’ve got to pay attention to as far as how much work he does. He struggled on that road trip and was hitting and hitting and hitting and we got to kind of monitor him and make sure he doesn’t hit too much. We think it comes a little bit from just doing what Carl does. And from what players do in general is when they’re not doing what they want, they keep working. It’s a characteristic that we like but we got to make sure it doesn’t go too far.”

Skip Schumaker will lead off and play left field in Crawford’s place.

Yasiel Puig, who is nursing a hip injury, went through extensive pregame stretching but was back in the lineup in right field, batting second.

“Right now it’s a little tight or whatever,” Mattingly said. “So if it loosens up he plays. If it doesn’t, then he won’t.”

Dodgers sign 28 of 40 picks before deadline, including all of top 12.

The deadline for major-league teams to sign the amateur players they drafted in June has come and gone. The Dodgers signed 28 of their 40 draft picks after pitcher MJ Villegas, their 23rd-round pick, officially signed yesterday.

The highest draft pick not to sign was 13th-rounder Ty Damron, a Texas high schooler who has committed to Texas Tech University. In all the Dodgers signed 18 of their first 20 picks and 23 of their first 25.

Daily Distractions: More on Yasiel Puig, and when the media glare becomes too bright.

Yasiel Puig ESPN
We in the media wrote a lot about Yasiel Puig yesterday.

If anything, you’d figure that would dispel any misconceptions about the Dodgers’ outfielder. Such as this one:

By my count Puig did two interviews — one via sattelite on SportsCenter and another group interview in the Dodgers’ clubhouse — before yesterday’s game. He did another group interview afterward, when most of the questions were about his sore hip.

Whoever says he doesn’t talk to reporters has confused the facts; he simply doesn’t enjoy talking to reporters. “The press is something new for me,” Puig said yesterday (in Spanish, with clubhouse attendant Alex Torres interpreting), “and it’s something new and it’s difficult because sometimes they put in things that I never said.”

Puig became particularly heated with ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez before yesterday’s game. The conversation was in Spanish, and even the most fluent Spanish speaker couldn’t make out the particulars after Hanley Ramirez dialed the volume up to 11 on the salsa music playing in the clubhouse. Puig isn’t unique among professional athletes getting angry at reporters, though he’s among few whom the world’s largest cable sports outlet has (temporarily) assigned a personal reporter. And before arriving in America, he’d never had more than two reporters to deal with at a time. These days, he’s up to 20 or more.

All of this is only relevant because it’s a small part of the larger assimilation process for Puig as a major-league baseball player, a process that has taken some strange twists on and off the field.

Fact is, he’s talking to reporters. For now.

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
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Yasiel Puig leaves Dodgers’ win with hip injury after seven innings, will get treatment Friday.

Yasiel Puig was removed from the Dodgers’ 6-1 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday with an aggravated left hip muscle.

Puig said through a translator that it’s the same injury that began bothering him after he collided with the fence at Coors Field in Colorado on July 3.

During his postgame press conference, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he didn’t think the two injuries were connected, then added that he doesn’t believe Puig would need to miss more than a day. A more accurate evaluation will probably come tomorrow, when Puig said he’ll get treatment for the injury.

Puig said he came out of the game after seven innings at the behest of the Dodgers’ training staff. He was replaced in center field by Andre Ethier.

Here’s a video clip of the initial injury Puig suffered in Colorado: