Daily Distractions: MLB owners approve expanded replay for 2014.

Umpires huddle

Photo by Getty Images

Get ready for the “manager’s challenge.”

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced that a new instant replay policy was adopted Thursday morning by MLB owners, beginning next season, that would allow one manager’s challenge in the first six innings and two more beginning in the seventh inning. The challenged calls would be reviewed by an off-site crew at MLB headquarters in New York. Balls and strikes would not be subject to review.

The policy is expected to be formally adopted at the next owner’s meetings in November.

The net benefit to the game could be a good one. The policy is a success if a bad call never decides the outcome of a game (or a perfect game) again.

Yet you wonder how much slower the games will be as a result of the policy and how soon — not if — MLB will make the inevitable tweaks to the system. It’s not likely that baseball gets this right on the first try.

Some more bullet points for a Dodgers off-day:
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Andre Ethier (calf tightness) scratched from Dodgers’ starting lineup against Mets.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier is batting .241 (7 for 29) since getting hit with a pitch by Chicago Cubs pitcher Pedro Strop on Aug. 4 (Getty Images)

Andre Ethier was scratched from the Dodgers’ starting lineup before Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets because of tightness in his left calf.

Ethier wasn’t at the ballpark during clubhouse media availability and did not take batting practice on the field with the rest of the Dodgers on Tuesday. It’s possible that he would be able to get in a late round of batting practice indoors, but manager Don Mattingly was noncommittal when asked if Ethier would be available off the bench.

Ethier was hit in the calf late in the Dodgers’ 1-0 win over the Cubs on August 4. Mattingly said the outfielder has been dealing with tightness in the area ever since. The pain worsened to the point that Ethier visited a doctor Tuesday; a better update on the severity of the injury should be available after the game.

Skip Schumaker took Ethier’s place in center field and was inserted directly into the fifth spot in the lineup against the New York Mets’ Matt Harvey. Schumaker is batting .286 against right-handers this season compared to .287 for Ethier. Both have one single in their career against Harvey — Ethier in three at-bats, Schumaker in six.

Harvey enters the game second in the National League in earned run average (2.09).

Daily Distractions: Is Clayton Kershaw in the midst of the best season ever by a Dodgers pitcher?

Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw didn’t allow a run in eight innings against the New York Yankees on Wednesday. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis gets the bigger picture of his existence as a Major League Baseball player. He doesn’t strike me as an over-the-top baseball historian like Curt Schilling, or a numbers guy like Brandon McCarthy, but he does catch Clayton Kershaw every fifth day. So he gets it.

“We’re spoiled, that’s all I can say, having him on our team and on our pitching staff,” Ellis said after the Dodgers’ 3-0 loss to the Yankees yesterday. “We’re teammates with somebody who’s really, really special.”

Some perspective on Kershaw: His 1.87 earned-run average is the lowest in baseball, and he has a chance to post the first sub-2.00 ERA by a Dodgers pitcher since Sandy Koufax in 1966. If the season ended today, Kershaw would qualify for the ERA title (he’s pitched 168 innings) and would own the third-lowest ERA in a single season in Dodgers history. In terms of ERA+, which accounts for how many runs are being scored around the league in a given year, Kershaw is in the midst of the best season by a pitcher in Dodgers history, a hair better than Koufax’s 1966 season.

But Ellis doesn’t need the numbers. He sees it all the time. “The fact that (Kershaw) can come out and reproduce what he does,” Ellis said, “is what makes him the best in the league.”

Onto the bullet points for a Colorado statehood day:
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