You can vote on Kevin Youkilis' Opening Day facial hair … seriously

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Youkilis headshot.jpgAw, crap.  Alex Speier of Boston-based WEEI.com passes along word that Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is throwing together a charity-backed vote to decide the style of his Opening Day facial hair.  The choices are: goatee, mustache, fu manchu or clean shaven.

The $1 to vote benefits underprivileged children in the Boston area, which seems like a great and worthy cause, but it’s times like these when we here at HBT most crave the start of the regular season.  We want to write about dingers, man, not mustaches. 

Anyway, if you want to take part and help a great charity, head on over to Youkilis’ Hits For Kids website for more information.  The Red Sox open their season April 4 against the Yankees.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.