Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp responds to Giants first baseman Brandon Belt’s ‘chemistry’ quip.

Matt Kemp said Friday that he thinks “we all saw the quotes” from San Francisco Giants Brandon Belt about the Dodgers’ chemistry experiment this year. In case you didn’t, here they are:

“All I can say is, you can’t buy chemistry.”

Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea reports that attendees at the Giants’ Fan Fest earlier this month responded to Belt’s statement with “a thunderous ovation.”

Nothing like a few fightin’ words to stoke a good rivalry, right?

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Daily Distractions: Dodgers sign Mark Lowe; Hanley Ramirez hurt (briefly); NL West rumblings.

Mark Lowe

Mark Lowe is, in many ways, a typical spring training reclamation project. The 29-year-old’s fastball was once clocked at 101 mph, but now sits in the low 90s. He is a veteran of parts of seven major-league seasons and two surgeries: Elbow microfracture (2006) and back microdisectomy (2010). He’s also a Type 1 diabetic.

Now, Lowe is the newest Dodger courtesy of a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick first reported the deal, which would pay $1.5 million in base salary if Lowe makes the team.

Unlike most reclamation projects, Lowe was pitching effectively at the major-league level last season. He allowed only eight runs in his first 31 appearances for the Rangers but faded in September, allowing earned runs in four of five appearances (18.90 ERA). He was sidelined for six weeks at midseason with a strained intercostal muscle in his ribcage after throwing a career-high three innings in one game.

The right-hander is not a complete longshot to make the team, but he’ll have to prove he belongs in a crowded Dodgers bullpen. More on that later.

Some links to send you into the weekend:

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Daily Distractions: Don Sutton bobblehead; updates on Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Hanley Ramirez.

Don SuttonDon Sutton will be the fourth and final bobblehead given away during the 2013 season, the Dodgers announced today.

The mini-Suttons will be nodding yes on June 6. The 7 p.m. game that night against the Atlanta Braves is a three-star game under the Dodgers’ new pricing plan.

The other bobblehead giveaways this season include Hanley Ramirez on April 30 (vs. COL), Matt Kemp on May 14 (vs. WAS), Jaime Jarrín on May 25 (vs. STL), Sandy Koufax on June 27 (vs. PHI), Adrian Gonzalez on July 11 (vs. COL), Vin Scully on July 25 (vs. CIN), Hideo Nomo on Aug. 10 (vs. TB), a “flag saving” Rick Monday on Aug. 27 (vs. CHI) and Magic Johnson on Sept. 12 (vs. SF).

It’s the first-ever bobblehead for Sutton at Dodger Stadium, who was given the royal treatment in 2007 in Milwaukee. Sutton was a Brewer for two-and-a-half seasons and a Dodger for 16 – from 1966 to 1980 and again in 1988. He still owns several franchise pitching records, including wins (233), starts (533), games (550), strikeouts (2,696), innings pitched (3,814.0) and shutouts (52).

Which defunct San Francisco ballpark, and which former National League MVP’s reputation, are getting blown up? Read on …

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Dodgers will make at least one Sunday Night Baseball appearance in 2013.

ESPNThe Dodgers’ game in San Francisco against the Giants on May 5 has been selected for a Sunday Night Baseball telecast on ESPN. It was one of 11 dates the network announced today as part of its first-half schedule:

March 31: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros
April 7: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers
April 14: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
April 21: St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies
April 28: Atlanta Braves at Detroit Tigers
May 5: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
May 12: Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox
May 19: Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers
May 26: Atlanta Braves at New York Mets
July 14: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
July 21: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

The second-half schedule is yet to be determined. The Dodgers made four Sunday Night Baseball appearances in 2012 (May 20, July 1, September 9, September 23) and went 3-1.

Brandon League has a bold prediction, a new contract, and a cool Halloween costume.

Brandon League's Halloween costume

Dodgers pitcher Brandon League is dressing up as Psy for Halloween. The Korean rapper is best only known in United States for the song and music video “Gangnam Style,” a frequent champion on “Dodgers Jukebox” this year.

Coincidentally, San Francisco Giants broadcasters Jon Miller and Dave Flemming were doing the “Gangnam Style” dance today — a “perk,” I suppose, when your team wins the World Series and throws a parade.

Usually, another “perk” of winning the World Series is that you’re considered the favorites to win your division next season. Not in League’s opinion.

“We are going to be the team to beat next year,” he said. “We have everyone coming back, everyone coming back healthy.”

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Poll: Who’s the favorite?

Six days ago, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp was asked about his team entering the 2013 season as the favorites in the National League West. His response: “I don’t know if we’ll be named favorites. The Giants made it to the World Series.”

Who’s the favorite to win the National League West in 2013?

Less than a week later, the Giants are world champs after sweeping the Detroit Tigers in four games. San Francisco, like the Dodgers, also has few key free agents hitting the market. Aging second baseman Marco Scutaro is probably the biggest, followed by center fielder Angel Pagan and left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt.

So even though it’s early, it’s still worth asking … who is the favorite to win the National League West in 2013? I’ll even throw the Diamondbacks, Padres and Rockies into this poll for the sake of fairness.

There will be a new poll here every day for the next month, so keep coming back. No electoral college here – popular vote wins.

The view from San Francisco.

Most of the prose flowing from San Francisco about its baseball team focused on the playoffs. Must be nice.

Seems like the Giants are focused on the playoffs, too. They didn’t exactly blow through the Padres in San Diego over the weekend, losing 3-1 on Saturday and needing back-to-back ninth inning home runs Sunday to salvage a series victory. Writes Henry Schulman in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The optimist would say that the Giants are going through a temporary lackadaisical spell with their playoff ticket punched, which is not uncommon, and that once their Division Series begins Saturday, they will be back on track.

On the other hand, that rose-colored picture can be hard to see through the haze of errors, mental blunders and pitching troubles plaguing the National League West champs.

Just how lackadaisical have the Giants been?
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View from the North.

The Dodgers geared up for the stretch run Saturday by completing a 9-player blockbuster trade that brings first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to Los Angeles.

How will their National League rivals opponents respond?

For what it’s worth, sports columnist Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group opined that the first-place San Francisco Giants already improved when they lost their best hitter, Melky Cabrera, to a 50-game drug suspension 10 days ago. Uh-huh.

This was all written before the Gonzalez trade and after the Giants swept the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, mind you, but read on:
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Deadline recap: Rangers win Dempster derby

The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Dodgers will have to be satisfied with a haul that includes third baseman/shortstop Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Shane Victorino and relief pitchers Randy Choate and Brandon League.

Just as notable was one player they didn’t get: Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who went to the Texas Rangers for third base prospect Christian Villanueva and pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks.

Dempster, whose 2.25 ERA is second in the majors, would have instantly upgraded a rotation whose best right-hander is either Chad Billingsley or Aaron Harang, depending on the night. (Last night, it wasn’t Harang.) He also would have cost the Dodgers a pitching prospect they did not want to part with –Allen Webster and Zach Lee remain at Double-A Chattanooga.

Since he’s a free agent at the end of the season, the Dodgers could still go after Dempster in the winter.

The trade is another strike in the burgeoning arms race in the American League West, where the Angels stole headlines last week by obtaining Zach Greinke from Milwaukee. The Rangers also obtained Cubs catcher Geovany Soto in a separate deal last night.

It also points to August as an interesting month if the Dodgers want to obtain a starting pitcher through the waiver process.

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Giants 4, Dodgers 1.

The Dodgers couldn’t take advantage of another strong Nate Eovaldi start in a 4-1 loss to the Giants before an announced crowd of 10,084 at Scottsdale Stadium. [box score]

Mark Ellis and James Loney — the only two expected opening-day starters in the lineup — each had two hits. Jerry Hairston Jr. and Josh Bard had the only other hits for the Dodgers off Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit and four relievers.

Eovaldi allowed three hits and two runs, both earned, the most runs he’s allowed in five spring starts. The right-hander struck out none, walked two, and saw his Cactus League earned-run average rise to 1.72.

“He continues to get more off-speed pitches,” manager Don Mattingly said. “He was using the curveball today more, using the changeup some.”

Reliever Todd Coffey allowed the Giants’ other two runs, on a two-run home run by Nate Schierholtz in the eighth inning.

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