Daily Distractions: Hanley Ramirez announces another rehab assignment on Twitter.

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez will be in a Rancho Cucamonga Quakes uniform again Thursday (Photo courtesy of MILB.com)

To be fair, Hanley Ramirez warned us.

“I think it’s soon. I’m going to tweet it for my fans,” Ramirez said five days ago, asked when and where his rehabilitation assignment would begin.

“You can just tell us,” I replied.

“No,” he said.

So here was the “official” word Wednesday morning:

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes play the Bakersfield Blaze Thursday through Sunday before returning home Monday.

Ramirez has played four major-league games since Opening Day, the last coming May 3. His assignment with the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate is good news, however it’s delivered, and it means Ramirez could be back with the Dodgers next week if his hamstring holds up.

Some bullet points for a Nigerian Democracy 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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Tom Wright, a 54-year-old knuckleballer, is trying to make the Dodgers.

Tom Wright

I spent Thursday afternoon talking up two open-tryout participants on the back field at Camelback Ranch. One was disabled Navy veteran Doc Jacobs, whose story will appear in tomorrow’s editions. The other was Tom Wright, a 54-year-old high school teacher from Hawaii (via Livermore, California), whose story appears below.

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Daily Distractions: Three things about Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu; Pads and PEDs; a Trevor Bauer/Chan Ho Park rap battle?

Hyun-Jin Ryu Sandy Koufax

Hyun-Jin Ryu got the star turn in the media today. I likened him to a circus performer, the way he’s calmly and confidently performing these acts of non-pitching prowess under pressure. Here are three things about Ryu that I didn’t include in my story for today’s papers:

1. He’s really broken up about not pitching for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic. “One thousand percent — I really wanted to play in the WBC. But I felt obligated to the L.A. Dodgers,” Ryu said through an interpreter.

2. Ryu might have let Don Mattingly beat him at ping pong. “In their country it’s not polite to beat the manager, and he wanted me to tell him that,” pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “He couldn’t tell him but I could tell him.”

3. What did Sandy Koufax tell Ryu to do differently with the curveball? “Deeper into my hand,” Ryu said. “Instead of pushing with my thumb, deeper so then I can let the ball come out” over the index finger.

Here’s some of the buzz in spring training today:
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Fernando Valenzuela will be inducted into Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday.

Fernando Valenzuela

Fernando Valenzuela will be inducted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame — el Pabellón de la Fama del Caribe — on Sunday in Hermosillo, Mexico, at Universidad Sonora, Centro de Los Artes.

The current Dodgers broadcaster and retired pitcher was born about 200 miles south of Hermosillo, then began his career in Sonora playing for Mayos de Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League at age 16. He also played for Naranjeros de Hermosillo and Águilas de Mexicali in the LMP and played in the Caribbean Series. Valenzuela’s induction will recognize his career in the LMP and in Major League Baseball.

The 52-year-old is scheduled to travel to Hermosillo Friday to partake in the opening ceremonies of Estadio Sonora, the brand-new stadium that will host the Caribbean Series. Valenzuela will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 7 p.m. game between Yaquis de Obregón and Criollos de Caguas.

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Daily Distractions: Gearing up for the season; prospect rankings, more minor-league signings.

Are we there yet?

We’re getting close.

The Dodgers’ community caravan marks its final day today with stops at Santee Educational Complex (1921 South Maple Ave., Los Angeles), Inner-City Arts (720 Kohler St., Los Angeles), Tobinworld (902 East Broadway, Glendale), and the Dodgers Dreamfield at LA Boys and Girls Club (2635 Pasadena Avenue, Los Angeles).

The various events are scheduled to include third baseman Luis Cruz and wife Maria, AJ Ellis and wife Cindy, Mark Ellis, Andre Ethier and wife Maggie, Tim Federowicz, Adrian Gonzalez, Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw and wife Ellen, Brandon League and wife Sasha, Don Mattingly and wife Lori, Nick Punto, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Skip Schumaker and Shawn Tolleson and wife Lynley.

Participants in the community caravan will try to avoid contracting dysentery (if you understand the above photo, this joke will make perfect sense).

Today’s also the final day for season ticket holders to visit Dodger Stadium for Select-A-Seat. Individual game tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m., coinciding with the FanFest in Lot 6 from 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and will feature appearances and autographs with Kershaw, Ethier, Zack Greinke and Matt Kemp. FanFest gates open at 11 a.m. for the general public and at 10:30 a.m. for Dodger season ticket holders with their MVP cards.

If it feels like the season is just around the corner, it is. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12.

In the meantime, here are some links to carry you into the weekend:

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Daily Distractions: Mike Piazza writes a book; PEDs, PEDs and more PEDs!

"<strongAre rumors of performance-enhancing drug use tarnishing your reputation? Write a book!

Worked for Lance Armstrong, right?

Mike Piazza is co-authoring a book with Lonnie Wheeler in which he denies using PEDs, according to Newsday. Earlier this week Piazza was denied election to the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot, collecting 57.8 percent of votes, short of the mandatory 75 percent.

How much of that is due to PED suspicions is unclear, but it will be interesting to see if Hall voters are affected by Piazza’s tell-all.

Hope you’re in the mood for some performance-enhancing bullet points …

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Mattingly to receieve Lasorda award.

Don Mattingly will be honored with the Tommy Lasorda Managerial Achievement Award at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s “In the Spirit of the Game” Spectacular in on Jan 12, 2013.

Lasorda annually presents the award at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. This is believed to be the first time the former Dodger manager will hand the award to the current Dodger manager. Previous winners of the award include Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia, Gene Mauch, Bobby Cox, Whitey Herzog, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Valentine.

The annual gala attended by 1,500 guests, including many prominent figures from the world of sports, entertainment and media, benefits baseball scouts who are in need. Over the past nine years, the foundation led by Dennis Gilbert has raised over $1.5 million.

More Magic: Tommy Lasorda.

On a day when no one wearing a Dodger uniform could avoid a question about the change in ownership, Tommy Lasorda was no exception.

Surrounded by reporters outside the team’s spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona, today, Lasorda addressed his future with the club as a “special advisor” to the owner, as well as his relationship with Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten, two members of the incoming ownership group.
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