Daily Distractions: Dodgers aren’t counting on Matt Kemp to appear in Sydney games.

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp hasn’t begun running in spring training. The Dodgers depart for Australia on March 16. (Associated Press photo)

Don Mattingly solved the “The Four Outfielder Problem.” For two games, at least.

The Dodgers’ manager doesn’t believe that Matt Kemp will be available for the Dodgers’ season-opening trip to Sydney, Australia on March 22. Kemp hasn’t been cleared to run on flat ground and won’t be until he undergoes an MRI exam next week.

“I don’t think we’re — we’re not hopeful for Australia,” Mattingly said. “The MRI next week … will let us know where he’s at.”

Kemp is facing live pitching on a minor-league field at Camelback Ranch today. Throughout spring training he has been able to maintain his weightlifting regimen and exercise on an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill.

But that is different from running on flat ground, or patrolling the outfield, or turning around first base.

“It’s just the fact that he hasn’t been on the grass, running and cutting,” Mattingly said. “How long that takes, once they clear him to start that type of thing, that will be a progression.”

For now, expect an outfield of Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig in Australia — if all are healthy.

Some bullet points for an International Mother Language Day:

• Mattingly confirmed that Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will start the Dodgers’ first two Cactus League games, in that order, against the Arizona Diamondbacks. More on that later today.

• Miguel Rojas said that his wife was able to fly safely out of Venezuela this morning. That’s a huge relief.

• Overheard Thursday: Juan Uribe singing the Canadian national anthem.

• Planning on attending Opening Day in person? Fans who fly Qantas to Sydney in first or business class from LAX have the option of being picked up and dropped off by a chauffeur.

MLBTradeRumors.com takes a broad look at the world of opt-out clauses. Kershaw and Greinke both have unqualified opt-out clauses; Hyun-Jin Ryu can opt out of his deal if he pitches 558 innings the next four seasons.

• Also overheard Thursday: In the mid-2000s, there was a serious proposal for a relay race to be staged at the All-Star Game. American League vs. National League, four fast guys per side. It would be the fast-player equivalent to the Home Run Derby. An interesting idea, but the owners shot it down.

• On Wednesday I asked several of the Cactus League teams’ managers and general managers about baseball’s incoming instant replay system, and how extensive it would be in spring training. Most said they were waiting to hear from Tony La Russa and Joe Torre about how the system could be used in spring training. Thursday, La Russa gave the pertinent details to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Thesis Magazine investigated Clayton Kershaw’s charity work in Dallas. Suffice it to say, Kershaw’s Challenge probably won’t appear in the sequel to this piece about athlete’s charities that don’t give back.

• “Sometimes” by Raphael Saadiq is just smooth:

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email