Daily Distractions: How a quirky, schedule-induced disabled list rule could affect the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster.

Dan Haren

New Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren might need to be wary of his SCL as Opening Day approaches. (Associated Press)

How can a player go on the 15-day disabled list and miss only five regular-season games?

If he plays for the Dodgers or Arizona Diamondbacks, of course.

Thanks to a quirky schedule that has the Dodgers and Diamondbacks starting their season in Sydney, Australia on March 22 — a week before any other club — both teams will be allowed to place players on the disabled list retroactive to March 19. For every other team, the earliest a retroactive DL stint can begin is March 21.

What does that mean?

For Matt Kemp, who has pledged not to rush back from an off-season ankle surgery that’s still healing, it means he can start the season on the disabled list and be eligible to play in the Dodgers’ home opener April 4. The Dodgers play five regular-season games before April 4: The two games in Sydney, and a three-game series in San Diego.

That’s good news for fans. The best news for the Dodgers might concern their starting rotation.

In theory, only three starting pitchers are needed for the Dodgers’ first five games of the season. The two pitchers who start in Sydney (say, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke) would have more than one week’s rest before the first two games of the San Diego series, March 30 and April 1. The third starter could pitch April 2 against the Padres. Then the rotation can reset on regular rest — if manager Don Mattingly chooses — with Kershaw and Greinke starting the first two games of the opening homestand April 4 and 5.

If every pitcher stays on regular rest, the Dodgers won’t need a fourth starter until April 6 at the earliest. By then, the 15-day DL window will have expired. Let’s say the fourth starter is Dan Haren. Maybe Haren comes down with a nasty hangnail, a twinge in his pitching triceps, a strained SCL (something collateral ligament). He can start the season on the 15-day disabled list and the Dodgers can give that roster spot to an extra bench player or an extra reliever — maybe a swingman like Paul Maholm who could start in case of an unexpected injury (brawl?) involving one of the top three starters. Haren can come off the 15-day and start on schedule April 6.

It’s something to keep in mind when the Dodgers decide who’s playing in Sydney. More than a typical year, the disabled list could go a long way toward determining the Opening Day roster.

Some bullet points for an Inventors’ Day:

• Paul Maholm once struck out Billy Crystal in a spring game.

Maholm, Part II: It’s unclear how he fits into the roster as currently constructed.

• Don Mattingly said his contract extension gives him confidence, not security.

• The University of Minnesota and Northern Illinois will play each other at the Camelback Ranch main stadium at 1 p.m. Friday-Sunday, February 14-16. Fans are invited to arrive after 9 a.m. to watch the Dodgers and White Sox morning workouts and stay for bonus college baseball in the afternoon. Admission is free and food and beverages will be available for purchase during workouts and the college games.

• Mexico won the Caribbean Series.

Barry Zito: Still a free agent. So his his mansion.

ESPN.com’s Howard Bryant proposed one way to reverse the trend of the disappearing black baseball players: Eliminate the draft.

• Happy birthday to former Dodgers prospect Allen Webster (24), Luis Cruz (30), Hiroki Kuroda (39), Jack Fimple (55) and original Los Angeles Dodger Randy Jackson (88).

• This instrumental version of “What’s Going On” is what’s going on:

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