Daily Distractions: Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson; minor-league signings; Scott Rolen update.

Jackie Robinson was born 94 years ago today in Cairo, Georgia. To commemorate the occasion, Google baked a birthday cake with 94 candles on top made Robinson the “doodle” on its home page today.

We’ll be writing a lot about Robinson this year. The 66th anniversary of his major-league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers is April 15. Three days earlier is the planned release date of “42,” the biopic starring Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. You can view the trailer here.

In light of this week’s news about a Miami-based PED lab that claimed several major-leaguers as clients, I’ll take this space to point out that Robinson was neither a drinker nor a smoker – let alone a juicer.

An often-overlooked local landmark is the plaque commemorating Robinson’s boyhood home at 121 Pepper Street in Pasadena. (There’s no home there now, just a plaque, as the home was torn down in the early 1970s.) Feel free to leave a present there today. Or a doodle.

Lots of links today:

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Daily Distractions: United States WBC roster announced, sexy players, tattoos, and more gossip.

The United States roster for the World Baseball Classic was announced today. Have a look:

United States World Baseball Classic roster

Obviously there are no Dodgers on the roster, but that could change. Think of this roster as a rough draft; teams must submit their final roster on Feb. 20, and all non-WBC players must report to spring training by then.

“Rough” is also a good way of describing the United States’ preliminary starting rotation. Beyond veterans R.A. Dickey and Ryan Vogelsong, who were both excellent in 2012 (and rarely so before 2010), Team USA would have to roll out Derek Holland and Kris Medlen if the tournament started today. Fortunately it doesn’t start today. It starts with three games in three days March 8, 9 and 10 – and possibly a fourth game on March 12 if they can place first or second in a four-team pool that includes Canada, Mexico and Italy. Can Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke sneak in one start? What about Justin Verlander, David Price, Jered Weaver or Matt Cain? Seems like the star power is falling short.

Of course, that didn’t stop the WBC from posting the headline “Stars Align on U.S. Roster for Classic” on its website today. Some feel that headline doesn’t tell the story. Count me in that group.

Some links, *some* of which actually relate to baseball …
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More Magic: Jerry Hairston Jr.

The historical significance of Magic Johnson’s latest feat was lost on a few Dodgers, but not Jerry Hairston Jr.

To Hairston, whose grandfather Sam became the first black player to play for the Chicago White Sox in 1951, it’s special to play for the league’s first black (part-)owner in Johnson.

“I think Jackie Robinson would be very proud today,” Hairston said.

A self-described “history buff” –as well as a third-generation major-leaguer — Hairston sees the civil rights movement through a unique lens.

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