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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Why the Dodgers probably won’t sign Torii Hunter.

Free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter said Monday in an appearance on the MLB Network that he’d like to make a decision on his future soon. On the surface, the Dodgers appear to be a bad fit. Torii  HunterLeft fielder Carl Crawford is expected to be healthy on opening day after having Tommy John surgery in August. Center fielder Matt Kemp should be ready following his shoulder procedure in September. Andre Ethier is healthy and entrenched in right field, and general manager Ned Colletti said Monday that he hasn’t talked to any teams about trading Ethier.

For Hunter, who can play both center and left — and did so while hitting .313/.365/.451 over 140 games last season in Anaheim — Dodger Stadium looks like a bad place to ply your trade.

But rumors gained steam last week when the Dodgers talked to Hunter’s agent at the GM meetings. There was no word how far those talks got, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point Hunter broached the subject with his pal, Kemp, too. Hunter lives in Southern California and plans stay once he retires. At age 37, that probably isn’t too far off.

Colletti has stated his interest in acquiring someone who can back up Kemp in center field — so why not Hunter? It’s not as if the Dodgers can’t afford him.

There’s one problem with that, manager Don Mattingly said Monday.

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Decision on Kershaw coming tonight.

Clayton Kershaw threw a normal bullpen session prior to Tuesday’s game in San Diego and cleared himself to pitch “as soon as possible — tomorrow.”

The Dodgers won’t let Kershaw start on two days’ rest, but Kershaw’s upbeat evaluation was certainly good news for a team in search of a late-September miracle in their playoff chase. Kershaw’s return to health from the pain in his right hip is becoming a minor miracle of its own.

“I have no medical reasoning for why it feels good now and didn’t feel good before,” he said.

Manager Don Mattingly said that he would meet with general manager Ned Colletti on Tuesday night for a final decision on Kershaw’s next start. They seem to be leaning toward letting Kershaw to start on regular rest Friday against the Colorado Rockies.

“Everybody’s OK with the decision, what we’re thinking,” Mattingly said, “but it’s just a matter of making sure Ned’s involved with it, everybody else is involved with it.”

Kershaw said that he stopped doing lower-body lifting in the gym, but that’s been the only change to his between-starts routine.

“Everything’s been totally normal,” Mattingly said. “He’s doing everything that he would do after any other start throughout the course of the whole season. I saw him in the lobby yesterday and he’s like, ‘when am I pitching again?’ ”

Mattingly did allow for the possibility that Kershaw wouldn’t pitch if the Dodgers are out of playoff contention by Friday. In the worst-case scenario, the Dodgers would be six games out of the final wild-card spot with six games to play if they are swept by the San Diego Padres, and the Cardinals beat the Houston Astros in their next two games.

Kershaw has pitched 211.2 innings this season and 649.1 in the past three seasons combined.

Report: Colletti to sign multi-year contract extension.

The Dodgers and general manager Ned Colletti have agreed on a multi-year extension, according to CBSsports.com.

The report comes one day after Colletti said that manager Don Mattingly would return in 2013.

Writes Jon Heyman:

Colletti’s old contract called for mutual options after this season, but a new deal was being discussed for more than a week. …The new deal will be a multiyear arrangement. One person said it could wind up being for three years, though previous reports suggested two.

The Dodgers have yet to announce a new contract for Colletti. But since both Colletti and Mattingly have expiring contracts in 2013, it makes sense if the new ownership group would want both to begin the new season with a more certain future.

Ned Colletti offers his theory on Dodgers’ slide, backs Mattingly.

Ned Colletti was in a chatty mood Friday.

Did he sound dour? No. Philosophical? Yes.

So much so that it was easy to miss this nugget of wisdom, which the general manager dropped when he was asked if the Dodgers’ 5-12 stretch since Aug. 26 has caught him by surprise: “I try not to ever be surprised,” he said, “because I accept every day for what it brings.”

It’s easy to see where he’s coming from. One day, your cleanup hitter is James Loney. Next it’s Adrian Gonzalez. One day, you’re working for Frank McCourt. The next day, it’s Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson.

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James Loney’s interesting time as a Dodger is up.

During his daily pregame press briefing, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked for his best James Loney story.

“Oh God,” he sighed. Sounded like there were a few to choose from.

Mattingly picked one from a couple years back, when Larry Bowa was the Dodgers’ third-base coach, and James did “something on the field” that prompted Bowa to pull Loney aside in a tunnel leading into the Dodgers’ clubhouse.

“I know I’ve told you a hundred times…” Bowa said, in Mattingly’s words.

Loney’s response: “Well, I guess one-hundred and one.”

It was an appropriate anecdote for a player whose sense of humor was at times his best asset this season. Like on Friday, when Loney was asked why he was scratched from the lineup, as trade rumors swirled and Adrian Gonzalez was being scratched from the lineup in Boston.

“I don’t have good numbers against (Nate) Eovaldi,” Loney said. “I’m 0-for-0.”

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Colletti: Dodgers targeted Gonzalez since April.

When Adrian Gonzalez hit the second pitch he saw in a Dodger uniform for a three-run home run Saturday, it culminated general manager Ned Colletti’s season-long pursuit of the Boston Red Sox first baseman.

“I talked to [Red Sox general manager] Ben Cherington back in April about Adrian,” Colletti said. “As the talks went on, they were sporadic. We talked about other players. At the [July 31 non-waiver trade] deadline, they weren’t prepared to do anything. The more scouts talk, you get a feel for where the match may be – you get a feel for what players in your system they would like. … You don’t get the crystal clear picture of it, but you get an idea where their interest lies. We just kept turning, kept turning. I stayed in touch with Ben through the month of August. He all of a sudden knew that we were in the market to pick up star players. We were also looking to add as much pitching as we could add.”

Colletti said that Gonzalez was a topic of daily discussion, internally and externally, every day for the last week.

The home run was nice, but the Dodgers will need to get a lot more out of Gonzalez if today’s trade is to pay off. He’s under contract through 2018 for a total of $128 million after this season. Gonzalez turns 36 during the final year of his contract.

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Looking forward with Ned Colletti.

It’s been true for some time that the Dodgers are in the market for a starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever, and a corner infielder. Scratch Carlos Lee’s name off the list of available players, though general manager Ned Colletti doesn’t necessarily believe that Lee’s trade to the Miami Marlins last week is a sure sign the market is heating up.

“For the sellers, there’s never a sense of urgency until you get to the 31st,” Colletti said, referring to the August 31 trade deadline. “The seller’s risk is injury. They can wait it out right until the bell.”

Injuries? The Dodgers have plenty of those.
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