Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says National League teams might be more receptive to the designated hitter than in the past, even though owners ended two days of meetings without any serious discussion about expanding use of the DH.

A decline in offense and injuries to pitchers while hitting have stirred speculation the NL might be ready to embrace the designated hitter, which has been used in the American League since 1973.

Last week, Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said there was more momentum lately for the DH in the NL. But owners weren't inclined to consider a change when they met this week.

That doesn't mean there won't be. Baseball is in the final year of its collective bargaining agreement between owners and players, and the union has favored expansion of the DH because it would more mean high-paying roster spots.

Any change to the DH is a mandatory topic of bargaining.

"Twenty years ago, when you talked to National League owners about the DH, you'd think you were talking some sort of heretical comment," Manfred said. "But we have a newer group. There has been turnover, and I think our owners in general have demonstrated a willingness to change the game in ways that we think would be good for the fans, always respecting the history and traditions of the sport."

... Baseball is making a slight expansion of instant replay this year, allowing video reviews to assist umpires in placing baserunners when balls go out of play.

Chapman won't be facing charges

Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman will not be facing criminal charges related to a complaint of domestic violence, though he still faces a possible Major League Baseball suspension.


Mickelson looking good

Phil Mickelson returned from a long layoff with a big mid-round run Thursday in the CareerBuilder Challenge. Mickelson played a seven-hole stretch in 6 under, holing out for eagle on the par-4 eighth with a shot that spun back 15 feet. He chipped in on the next hole and added another birdie on 11, but made two late bogeys and finished with a 4-under 68 in his first start since the Presidents Cup in October.

Jason Dufner, Jerry Kelly, Jeff Overton and Anirban Lahiri shared the lead at 64.


Vonn leads training session

Poised to break the record for career downhill wins, Lindsey Vonn comfortably led the opening training session for a World Cup race in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

Vonn clocked 1 minute, 39.12 seconds for a 0.60-second advantage ahead of overall World Cup leader Lara Gut.

Another training session is scheduled for Friday before the downhill race Saturday and a super-G on Sunday.

Vonn is tied with Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell with 36 downhill wins. Last year in Cortina, Vonn broke Moser-Proell's record of overall wins with her 63rd victory.

college football

Carr on selection committee

Former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens are among the four new additions to the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Former Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower, ex-Central Michigan coach and athletic director Herb Deromedi, Mullens and Carr will be added to the 12-member committee. They will serve three-year terms.

... University of Illinois trustees approved a contract that will pay coach Bill Cubit $1.2 million per year for two years.