Column: 10 people to keep an eye on in Chicago this weekend, from Yermín Mercedes to Kris Bryant

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The start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics takes center stage this weekend, with all the traditional pomp and circumstance you’ve come to expect — minus the actual crowds.

But here in Chicago, we’ll be keeping an eye on these 10 people as the comeback summer continues without interruption.

Yermín Mercedes

From minor-league journeyman to instant sensation with a major-league record 8 hits in 8 at-bats to start the season for the White Sox, to poster boy for breaking the unwritten rules, to his return to Triple-A Charlotte, Mercedes’ life has gone through the spin cycle the last few months.

On Wednesday, he wrote on Instagram he was done playing, leading to Twitter speculation Sox manager Tony La Russa ruined his career.

“I’ll be back” said Arnold Schwarzenegger in his role as the Terminator. On Thursday, the “Yermínator” also was back, having changed his mind.

Kris Bryant

“Heavy legs” is one of the more unusual descriptions for a baseball injury, but that’s the reason Cubs manager David Ross gave for Bryant’s removal from Tuesday’s game in St. Louis, and subsequent day off on Wednesday.

Bryant is one of the biggest names on the trade market. Will an injury affect a potential deal, hurting the Cubs’ chances at a decent return? Or are the Cubs just keeping him off the field to assure he’s healthy enough to deal?

Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson

At long last it’s time to hear Hawk’s induction speech at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The White Sox broadcasting legend will receive his 2020 Ford Frick Award Saturday after a one-year delay caused by the pandemic. There should be lots of laughs and a few tears shed by the man Tom Paciorek once dubbed “the Hawkeroo.” Mercy.

Zach LaVine

The Bulls star cleared health and safety protocols and should be in uniform for Team USA in their Olympic opener Sunday against France.

With Bradley Beal out, LaVine’s role will take on added significance as the likely third scoring option after Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard. While Chicago already knows what he brings to the table, this is LaVine’s chance to show the world.

Tony La Russa

La Russa’s White Sox head up to County Stadium for a big three-game series against George Bamberger’s Milwaukee Brewers.

Oh wait, that was 42 years ago, in the summer of ’79 when Harry Chappas was La Russa’s leadoff man and Sal Bando was still on the Brewers. Now Tim Anderson and the Sox head to the former Miller Park for a much-anticipated showdown between two of baseball’s best rotations.

World Series preview?

Craig Counsell

How does a team with the second-worst hitting in baseball lead its division by 6 games? It helps to have a great pitching staff and one of the best managers in the game.

Year-after-year, the Brewers manage to surprise everyone. It probably will take getting to the World Series for Counsell to get his due, but at least the Brewers are getting a rare “Sunday Night Baseball” appearance against the White Sox to give America a glimpse.

Jed Hoyer

He waited forever to run the show himself, and now Hoyer’s task is dismantling part of the core of a team that fulfilled the wildest dreams of Cubs fans.

Hoyer knew this was coming when he took the job as Cubs president, so he should be ready to bite the bullet and do what’s necessary. One week until the trade deadline and all’s quiet. Too quiet?

Eloy Jiménez

The last-place Charlotte Knights continue their six-game series with the Durham Bulls — and Eloy Jiménez may be in his final week of rehab before rejoining the White Sox at the end of the month.

He hit .294 with an .851 OPS in the first nine games of his rehab stint and hopes to continue playing left field when he gets called up. La Russa may have to convince him that staying healthy as the DH is more important in the short term than trying to prove he’s not a DH.

Craig Kimbrel

The Cubs closer is Hoyer’s most valuable trade chip and figures to receive a standing ovation when he next appears at Wrigley Field because it likely will be his final homestand.

With an 0.51 ERA entering Thursday night, Kimbrel is on track to overtake Zach Britton’s 0.54 ERA with the 2016 Baltimore Orioles — a relief record for a full season. Few free-agent signees have endured a rougher start to their Cubs career nor enjoyed a more dominant finish.

Justin Fields

Last chance to breathe for the Bears rookie quarterback.

When training camp begins Tuesday, Fields will be the focus of Chicago sports for the next decade or so. At least that’s the plan. Bears plans have not always panned out, as you may have heard. If not, Google it.

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