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Albert Almora negotiations may be headache

Chicago Cubs' Bryan LaHair is greeted by teammates after hitting home run fourth inning baseball game against Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday

Chicago Cubs' Bryan LaHair is greeted by teammates after hitting a home run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Tuesday, June 5, 2012, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

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The facts: 7:10, CSN, 720-AM.

The pitchers: Paul Maholm
(4-4, 4.82 ERA) vs. Zack
Greinke (6-2, 3.46).

Updated: July 7, 2012 8:50AM

MILWAUKEE — Could first-round draft pick Albert Almora become a negotiations headache for the Cubs as they try to get him signed before the July 13 deadline? 

The Cubs don’t think so. But Almora, the No. 6 overall pick, seemed to raise the issue Tuesday, suggesting he’s ready to sign but still focusing on college baseball and waiting only for the Cubs to negotiate with themselves to determine whether he’ll skip the University of Miami and go pro. 

That or he’s having trouble reading adviser Scott Boras’ draft-day media-conference script and trying to suggest leverage in bonus talks. 

‘‘In my mind right now, I trust my abilities, and I know what I can do on the field,’’ said Almora, a high school center fielder, during a conference call. ‘‘That’s not the priority right now. 

‘‘We have to let the process play out and let the cards fall where they have to fall. I can’t control that. That’s something that Chicago has to talk to with their organization and come to an agreement.’’ 

That comment came after he was asked to clarify earlier comments in which he said his ‘‘main priority now is college’’ but added, ‘‘I guarantee I’m ready for major-league baseball, but we’ll have to see what happens when it’s time.’’

The Cubs wouldn’t comment on Almora’s remarks, but player development/scouting boss Jason McLeod said Monday the Cubs have done a lot of background work on Almora for a long time.

‘‘We feel like we got to know Albert as well, if not better than any other player in the country,’’ general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday, ‘‘from our area scouts to Jason to [amateur scouting director] Tim [ Wilken ]. We feel very confident with what we have.’’

MLB’s suggested bonus for that slot in the draft is $3.25 million. If the Cubs exceed that, it’ll come from what’s left of a $7.934 million allotment for their top 12 picks.

Under new restrictions in the collective-bargaining agreement, if the Cubs exceed the larger total, they start paying heavy fines up to the loss of future draft picks.

Call to arms

Cubs brass said they planned to focus on pitching in the three-day draft and backed it up the first two days, drafting seven consecutive pitchers after Almora and 11 pitchers in their first 17 picks through Tuesday.

After selecting two right-handers in the supplemental round Monday night, the Cubs took high school right-handers in Rounds 2 (Duane Underwood from Georgia) and 3 (Ryan McNeil from California).

One of their more intriguing picks followed in the fourth round: Coastal Carolina right-hander Josh Conway, whose 2012 season was cut short by an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.

He was considered a supplemental or second-round candidate until the injury.

Among Tuesday’s picks was Crystal Lake native Michael Heesch, a left-hander from the University of South Carolina who was taken in the eighth round.

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