The Week Ahead: Bryce Harper countdown begins

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Let the Bryce Harper countdown begin.

Harper, the 16-year-old Las Vegas high school star who was christened as the “Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated, is planning to skip his final two seasons of high school in an attempt to be eligible for the 2010 draft.

According to Harper’s father Ron, the phenom has registered at College
of Southern Nevada and will play for the junior college next season in
what would have been his junior year of high school.

Harper plans to earn his GED (high school equivalency) in the fall.

Harper, a 6-foot-3-inch catcher, hit .626 with 14 home runs and 55
RBIs for the Wildcats this season. He also had 36 stolen bases.

With his combination of power and speed, Harper is projected to be
the top pick in the major league draft when he’s eligible. That should
be next June.

The No. 1 pick a 17-year-old from Vegas? It’s possible. In the SI
story, an NL scouting director said Harper would have challenged
Stephen Strasburg for the No. 1 pick this year, at only age 16.

“Top two,” he says. “And that’s taking nothing away from the guys in
the draft this year. He’s honestly that good. He is a
once-in-a-generation talent.”

So let the race for Bryce Harper begin. Leading the way, once again,
are your Washington Nationals. At 16-45, the Nats have a healthy 8½
game lead over the next-worst team, the Arizona Diamondbacks (27-37).

FIVE SERIES TO WATCH


  • Brewers at Indians, June 15-17: The teams meet for just the
    second time since 2001 and Harry Doyle (aka Bob Eucker) will throw out
    the first pitch on Monday night. It’s “Major League” night after all. Don’t forget to pick up your Rick Vaughn bobblehead. I’m not kidding.
  • White Sox at Cubs, June 16-18:
    It’s the battle for the Windy City. And judging by the standings at
    this point, most of the wind is being generated by wild hacks and Ozzie
    Guillen.
  • Tigers at Cardinals, June 16-18: Not only is this a rematch of the 2006 World Series, but both teams are currently in playoff contention.
  • Braves at Red Sox, June 19-21:
    The Red Sox don’t know if John Smoltz will return to the majors this
    week. I suppose it would be too much to ask for the veteran to take the
    mound against his former team over the weekend. Even if it doesn’t
    happen this week, Atlanta writers are anticipating a possible start at Turner Field on June 28.
  • Dodgers at Angels, June 19-21: It’s the Freeway Series, which is
    sort of a laid-back, West Coast version of the Subway Series. Don’t
    expect to hear Ramon Troncoso complaining about Brian Fuentes’ “tired
    act.”

    ON THE TUBE

    Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET: Brewers at Indians (ESPN)
    Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.: Blue Jays at Phillies (ESPN)
    *Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Brewers at Tigers (FOX)
    *Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Cardinals at Royals (FOX)
    *Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Rays at Mets (FOX)
    Sunday, 1:30 p.m.: Braves at Red Sox (TBS)
    Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Dodgers at Angels (ESPN)
    *Check local listings

    And finally, for some fantasy tips for this week, click here.

  • Red Sox analyst Remy struck by monitor as wind causes havoc

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    BOSTON — Red Sox TV analyst Jerry Remy was hit in the head by a falling TV monitor as swirling winds caused havoc during the first inning at Fenway Park.

    Remy was sent home from Boston’s game Saturday night against the Minnesota Twins but is expected back Sunday. Former player Steve Lyons, also an analyst during some games, came in for Remy.

    The strong winds made for an interesting first.

    Minnesota’s Robbie Grossman hit a fly that appeared headed for center, but a gust blew it to right, sending right fielder Michael Martinez twisting as the ball fell for a triple.

    There were a handful of stoppages as dirt and litter swirled around the field. Batters stepped out to wipe their eyes and Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez headed to the dugout to have a trainer help him clear his left eye.

    White Sox ace Chris Sale scratched for ‘clubhouse incident’

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    CHICAGO — Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from his start against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night after he was involved in what the team said was a “non-physical clubhouse incident.”

    Sale, who was to attempt to become the majors’ first 15-game winner, was sent home from the park.

    “The incident, which was non-physical in nature, currently is under further investigation by the club,” general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “The White Sox will have no additional comment until the investigation is completed.”

    The White Sox clubhouse was open to reporters for only 20 minutes before it was closed for a team meeting before the game. Manager Robin Ventura did not discuss the incident later in his pregame availability.

    Right-hander Matt Albers started in Sale’s place and the White Sox planned to use multiple relievers. The crowd booed when Albers was announced as the starter as the teams warmed up.

    Sale had been shown as the starter on the scoreboard until about 15 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, which was delayed 10 minutes by rain.

    With the White Sox fading from playoff contention, Sale’s name has been mentioned as a possible trade target for contending teams.

    The left-hander, 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA, has been outspoken in the past.

    Sale was openly critical of team president Ken Williams during spring training when he said the son of teammate Adam LaRoche would no longer be allowed in the clubhouse. LaRoche retired as a result, and Sale hung LaRoche’s jersey in his locker.

    The 27-year-old Sale has said he’d like to stay in Chicago. He was the 13th overall pick out of Florida Gulf Coast in 2010 and has been selected as an All-Star five times. He started for the American League in this month’s All-Star Game.

    Sale, who is 71-43 in his career, entered the day leading the majors with 133 innings pitched and three complete games.

    In his last outing Monday, Sale allowed one hit over eight shutout innings before closer David Robertson gave up four runs in the ninth in Chicago’s loss to Seattle.

    The White Sox, who started 23-10, had dropped eight of nine games before Saturday and sat in fourth place in the AL Central, creating speculation that Sale and fellow lefty Jose Quintana could be dealt.

    Hahn said Thursday the White Sox were “mired in mediocrity” and hinted at possible big roster changes.

    Tigers GM Al Avila said before the game that many teams were looking for starting pitching.

    “Yet there are not as many good starting pitchers available,” Avila said. “And the guys that may come available are going to come at a steep price.