Daily Distractions: Finally, a major-league job for a longtime Dodgers minor-league coach.

Matt Martin

Matt Martin, right, coached in the Dodgers’ organization for six years (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Matt Martin took the long way to the major leagues.

Given the newly created title of defensive coordinator today by Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, Martin has strong ties to the Dodgers organization, but is unknown to the casual major-league fan. That’s because he spent 18 years as a minor-league coach, including five years as the Dodgers’ minor-league infield coordinator (2007-11), and one year (2012) as the coordinator of Arizona instruction at Camelback Ranch and manager of the Arizona Fall League Dodgers.

De Jon Watson, the Dodgers’ vice president of player development, called Martin “an extremely hard worker” who is “really sound on infield defense.”

“Matt’s bilingual and he’s worked his tail off to be fluent in Spanish,” Watson said. “He really has a good rapport with most of the players I’ve worked with.”

Young players were Martin’s specialty. When the Dodgers moved to Camelback Ranch, “we wanted a strong entry-level teacher who can walk these guys through the daily grind, preparation, how to know the uniform,” Watson said. “It was a teaching position.”

Why did it take Martin so long to get a major-league job? Watson couldn’t say.

Gabe Kapler, who worked with Martin while in Dodgers camp in 2011, indulged his theory in a recent article for BaseballProspectus.com:

Partially because he’s different and opinionated, and because baseball is notorious for disliking both attributes. His appearance and teaching style are drastically divergent from the MLB cultural norm. In a world where conformity feels safe, Matt can come off as threatening—not in the least to players, but certainly to other staff members.

When he disagrees with you, he will let you know, no matter who you are. Sometimes without filter and often times when he shouldn’t. Sugarcoating doesn’t sit well with him. He views it as disingenuous.

“Matt will give his honest opinion, even if he stands alone,” (Dodgers manager Don) Mattingly told me.

Standing alone, it turns out, is not conducive to ladder climbing.

Mattingly also told Kapler that Martin is known for his loyalty. Watson said the same thing.

Martin parted amicably with the Dodgers to become the Baltimore Orioles’ minor league infield/Latin American field coordinator last year. Climbing the next rung on the ladder, in any business, is often about who you know, and Ausmus and Martin knew each other from Ausmus’ brief time in the Dodgers’ organization.

It’s a slow baseball news day, yes. Also a good time to flesh out the interesting back stories that don’t often get told.

Some bullet points for a Latvian Independence Day:
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Daily Distractions: About the 1924 Brooklyn Robins.

If the Dodgers win today, they will equal the longest road winning streak in franchise history, set when the 1924 Brooklyn Robins won 12 straight on the road from Aug. 25-Sept. 6. At 89 years old, the record has stood long enough to escape even Vin Scully’s memory.

So here are some things you might not have known about the 1924 Brooklyn Robins:

They finished the year 92-62, 1 ½ games behind the New York Giants for the NL pennant, after coming back from 13 games out on Aug. 9.

They were managed by Wilbert Robinson, who bore a suspicious resemblance to Wilford Brimley and gave the team its nickname, the “Robins.”

The road winning streak was established during the first game of a doubleheader on Sept. 6, 1924 as right-hander Bill Doak hurled a two-hit shutout over the Boston Braves and right fielder Tommy Griffith drove in the only run with a triple in the 1-0 victory. The game came in the middle of a 25-9 run by the Robins to finish the season.

Zack Wheat hit .375 that season, the third-highest single-season batting average in franchise history. Wheat still isn’t recognized anywhere in Dodger Stadium.

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:

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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers return to Canada.

Dave Roberts

Who can forget all those memorable Dodgers-Expos battles over the years? Certainly not Dave Roberts and Brian Schneider. (Associated Press)

The Dodgers play the Toronto Blue Jays today at the Rogers Centre. Here’s a brief history of Dodgers in Canada:

1. From 1939-60, the Montreal Royals are the primary minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, churning out such notable talents as Jackie Robinson, Tommy Lasorda (then a pitcher) and Walter Alston (then a manager).

2. The Dodgers beat the Expos 5-3 in Montreal on May 27, 1969 in the Dodgers’ first regular-season game ever played in Canada.

3. Don Drysdale is found dead at his hotel room in Montreal on July 3, 1993, the same day he was scheduled to broadcast a Dodgers-Expos game.

4. Raul Mondesi is traded to Toronto for Shawn Green, Nov. 8, 1999.

5. June 8, 2007: The Dodgers beat the Blue Jays 4-3. The game features Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez for the Dodgers; Matt Stairs, Frank Thomas and Troy Glaus and Royce Clayton for the Blue Jays. Stunning that they were all still productive major-league hitters in 2007.

Today’s game will be just the 13th ever between the teams.

Some bullet points for a Monday morning:

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Daily Distractions: Will Matt Kemp’s MRI results determine the Dodgers’ future?

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp leaves the field with athletic trainer Nancy Pattersonon Wednesday night after straining his right hamstring in a 4-3 loss to the Angels (Associated Press)

Matt Kemp will have an MRI on his aching right hamstring today, which could be the biggest news the Dodgers receive all month.

Or not.

The Dodgers are averaging more than four runs a game the past week, despite benching Kemp once, then dropping him to fifth in the batting order, and watching him go 3 for 21 (.143) while he was in the lineup. The Dodgers were able to tread water for about a month while Kemp recuperated from his hamstring strains in May and June of last year. It wasn’t until mid-June that the Dodgers went into a tailspin — and that was with a lineup featuring Dee Gordon, Tony Gwynn Jr., Elian Herrera and Bobby Abreu among others on a nightly basis. With Hanley Ramirez due to return soon, there’s reason for optimism even if Kemp does need time on the DL.

He probably won’t need much time, if any.

“It’s not as bad as last year, but when you feel it grabbing you got to take it easy and make sure you take care of it cause it can get worse,” Kemp told colleague Clay Fowler after the Dodgers’ 4-3 loss to the Angels on Wednesday. “Probably about two years ago, I probably would have stayed in the game.”

Some more bullet points for a Canary Islands Day:

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Daily Distractions: On expiring contracts, Ryu, Ramirez and Robinson.

Matt Kemp Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly’s contract is up at the end of the year, but does it really matter? (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

What do Don Mattingly, Charlie Manuel, Jim Leyland and Ron Gardenhire have in common?

Answer: Mr. Burns would disapprove of their sideburns.

We also would have accepted that each has a contract that expires at the end of the season, as do six other managers, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark. That’s one-third of the league.

Writes Stark:

It does reflect a change in what once passed for conventional thinking: We can’t hang our manager out there on the last year of his deal. The players will walk all over him.

That may have been the theory once upon a time. But nowadays, says Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, “I think it’s something from out of the past that doesn’t exist in the present anymore. It’s one of those old things that was widely accepted — and then a lot of smart people said, ‘Why?'”

Truth is, many fans haven’t wrapped their heads around this concept yet. The intellectually lazy belief is that a cold seat becomes warm, a warm seat becomes hot, and a hot seat becomes scorching if the manager’s contract is up at the end of the year.

The relationship between each manager and his team is different, but many of the same hypotheses about Mattingly’s job security are probably being applied to Leyland, whose team won the American League pennant a year ago and whose plaque in Cooperstown may have been minted already (hopefully with a cigarette in Leyland’s mouth and missing only the logo on his hat).

After all the Tigers are only 10-10, or one fewer loss than the Dodgers.

Some bullet points to tide you through a Sierra Leone independence day weekend:

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