Daily Distractions: Clayton Kershaw joins an exclusive group of Dodgers All-Stars.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher to appear in three consecutive All-Star Games. (Associated Press)


Clayton Kershaw didn’t start the All-Star Game — Matt Harvey did — though he did join a different exclusive group Tuesday.

Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher ever to throw in three straight All-Star games. He fared better than the last Dodgers pitcher to do so; Eric Gagné gave up a solo home run in the 2002 game to Alfonso Soriano, allowed three runs in one inning the following year, and tossed a scoreless inning in his final All-Star appearance in 2004.

Fernando Valenzuela pitched two scoreless innings in the 1984 All-Star game, one scoreless inning in relief of Nolan Ryan the following year, then pitched three (!) scoreless innings in his final All-Star appearance in 1986.

Don Newcombe (1949-51) is the other. Like Gagné, his third and final All-Star appearance was the only one in which he didn’t allow a run.

Whit Wyatt, Ralph Branca and Sandy Koufax were all chosen to pitch in three straight All-Star Games or more, but for various reasons did not.

Of course, some were still focused on one Dodger who wasn’t in the game Tuesday.

The American League won the game, 3-0, and will have home-field advantage in the World Series. Mariano Rivera threw a scoreless inning, was named MVP and will be responsible for every baby born today in New York City named “Mariano,” “Mo” or, perhaps, “Sandman.”

Some bullet points for a Slovakian Independence Day:

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Daily Distractions: Caving to the #whiff, like the rest of MLB

There’s an episode of The Simpsons in which Krusty the Clown agreed to give away a free Krusty Burger if the United States won gold at certain events in the 1984 Olympics. When the Soviet Union boycotted the Games, Krusty stood to lose $44 million.

For some reason I was reminded of this episode when this came through my Twitter feed this morning:

CJ Wilson ad

Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson is a pitchman for Head & Shoulders’ hashtag-friendly “Season of the Whiff”.

You see, Procter & Gamble is donating $1 to the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) campaign every time a Major League Baseball player strikes out this season. To raise awareness of its Head & Shoulders shampoo brand, P&G is encouraging fans to tweet the hashtag #whiff along with the hashtag of your favorite team.

According to AdAge.com, Head & Shoulders spent $60 million in measured media last year, so MLB’s record strikeout rate probably won’t leave the company’s executives pulling their hair out like Krusty. Which is good, since bald shampoo executives can’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement of their product.

I’ll be here all week.
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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers’ pitching depth could be worse.

Ted Lilly

Ted Lilly makes his 2013 debut today against the New York Mets. (Getty Images)

When Ted Lilly starts tonight, the Dodgers will have used eight starters in their first 20 games of the season. SI recaps how the Dodgers got there.

The eight-starter experiment was basically a big game of “what if”: What if Chad Billingsley‘s elbow doesn’t hold up? What if Ted Lilly isn’t the same pitcher he was pre-surgery? What if the best pitcher in Korea can be one of the best pitchers in the United States? What if he can’t?

Here’s another “what if”: What if the Dodgers hadn’t gone out and acquired Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and entered this season with the same collection of starters they had a year ago?

Now you’re looking at Nathan Eovaldi stepping into the fifth starter’s job to replace Billingsley. Oh, wait. Eovaldi hasn’t pitched since spring training because of a shoulder issue. He’s on the 60-day disabled list (currently the Miami Marlins’ problem). Come on down, Stephen Fife.

After Fife, you’re looking at Allen Webster (who made his first major league start three days ago), Rubby De La Rosa (9.31 ERA for Boston’s Triple-A affiliate), Fernando Nieve, John Ely and perhaps Sandy Koufax as the next in line to start a game for the Dodgers.

You can thank your lucky Guggenheims that isn’t the case.

Some more bullet points for a Wednesday morning:
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Shawn Green’s thoughts on the Hall of Fame, Sandy Koufax, and the Dodgers’ new owners.

Shawn Green

Former Dodgers outfielder Shawn Green was in camp and in uniform as a special instructor this weekend. We got his thoughts on a variety of topics Sunday, including Sandy Koufax, the Hall of Fame, the Dodgers’ new owners, and his playing ambitions.

Green still has playing ambitions — more WBC ambitions than MLB ambitions — but he isn’t pressing the issue. At age 40, he’s content to be a father to his 7- and 10-year-old daughters. I’m saving that story for tomorrow’s editions.

Here’s what else Green had to say:

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Sandy Koufax’s pitching lesson is still sinking in with Chris Capuano.

Sandy Koufax made his spring training debut on Sunday for the Dodgers. He got rocked for a triple.

At least, that was the lazy conclusion to draw after Hyun-Jin Ryu threw one curveball in one inning against the Chicago White Sox, and DeWayne Wise drove it for a three-bagger. Five days earlier, Koufax was teaching Ryu a new grip on the curve — deeper in the palm of his hand — and Ryu tried it. Once. It was hit for a triple.

Chris Capuano tried another Koufax-taught technique Monday against the Cubs, pitching out of the stretch starting with his legs closer together than he had in the past (see here). This didn’t seem to work on first try, either. Darnell McDonald blasted a three-run home run off Capuano, who said he wasn’t comfortable out of the stretch in his first competitive inning of the season.

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Dodgers special advisor Sandy Koufax: ‘If I wasn’t having a good time, I wouldn’t be doing it.’

Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax (second from left) was in his wheelhouse Friday morning: In the shadows of the bullpen mound, at a distance, at Camelback Ranch.

The man commanding the most attention at the Dodgers’ camp is also the least comfortable in the spotlight.

Through his work with the club’s pitchers, Sandy Koufax may prove himself to be a master mentor, Yoda and Mr. Miyagi rolled into one. But he’s never been one to embrace his celebrity. In that regard, this spring — even with Koufax donning a Dodger uniform for the first time in decades — is no different.

“It’s fun,” Koufax said during a brief media session Friday. “I’m having a good time. If I wasn’t having a good time, I wouldn’t be doing it.”

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Daily Distractions: Presing pause on Eliezer Alfonzo Watch; Matt Wallach up, plus links.

Eliezer Alfonzo

The press corps in Glendale hit “pause” Thursday on Eliezer Alfonzo Watch 2013 when the catcher was revealed to be suffering from dengue virus in his native Venezuela. He cannot travel for five to seven days. A non-roster invitee on a minor-league contract with the Dodgers, Alfonzo will report to the minor-league side when he gets here.

Alfonzo was the only player who had yet to report since pitchers and catchers were scheduled to arrive last week.

Matt Wallach hopped over from the Dodgers’ minor-league camp to fill out the major-league catching corps. The 27-year-old, the son of Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, has spent the past three seasons at Double-A.

Alfonzo was one of several veterans expected to push rookie Tim Federowicz for the open backup catcher’s job in spring. Wilkin Castillo, Jesus Flores and Ramon Castro are still around as non-roster invitees. Before camp opened, I stated that the biggest question surrounding Alfonzo was whether he could stay clean; now the question is if he can get healthy.

The disease can be life-threatening but for the majority of sufferers, it’s just no fun.

The skies cleared over Phoenix today after it rained, hailed, and apparently even snowed in parts of the valley Wednesday. A handful of bullet points to brighten your day:

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Sandy Koufax returns to Dodgers as Special Advisor.

Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax is officially a Dodger again.

The greatest pitcher in franchise history has been appointed a special advisor to Dodgers chairman Mark Walter, the team announced Tuesday. Koufax will attend a portion of spring training to work with Dodgers’ pitchers and consult with the team throughout the year.

“I’m delighted to be back with the Dodgers,” Koufax said in a statement released by the team. “I’m looking forward to spending time with the team during Spring Training and to contributing in any way I can to help make the team a success for the fans of Los Angeles. Some of my most cherished memories came at Dodger Stadium.”

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Sandy Koufax arrives, speaks, compliments Kershaw.

Sandy Koufax was a surprise visitor to Camelback Ranch today. A surprise, at least, to some in the media room.

Koufax — who rarely gives interviews –blind-sided this member of the media by giving a brief interview in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, so we’ll credit Eric Stephen of truebluela.com for providing these words from the great lefty’s mouth:

On the Dodgers’ impending change in ownership:

“You’re sad to see it going through this kind of change. Change is inevitable, but this is not the normal way it happens.”

On whether Clayton Kershaw (Koufax watched Kershaw’s bullpen session Friday) has a ceiling:

“No. How do you make up a ceiling? His only ceiling is time. How long he will play, you don’t know. But as far as talent is concerned, no.

“If he’s as good as I think he’s going to be, I’m honored.”

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