Like Cubs, Astros building from bottom up

A story in USA Today suggested that the NL is moving closer toward adopting the DH, but Selig disputes that notion. He believes the current arrangement is here to stay.

"I haven't had one owner talk to me about the designated hitter,'' he said. "If we were ever going to have to decide on a uniform rule, it would be as part of some kind of cataclysmic event. Broad geographical realignment, for instance, but I don't see that happening. I think Bill was right. It's an argument, but it's a good argument.''

Paying it forward: Terry Francona is bringing a high level of energy to the Indians after working for ESPN last season, and one reason he's so comfortable is that he is reunited with Brad Mills, his longtime bench coach in Boston.

Mills left the Red Sox to manage the Astros in 2010 but was doomed when Luhnow took over for Ed Wade and decided to implement a scorched-earth approach. They immediately become the most decorated bench combination in the AL Central.

Francona's book, co-authored by the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, provides a great look at the Red Sox in the Epstein era. One cool nugget is how much Francona thought of New Trier graduate Dave Jauss (son of the late Tribune sports reporter Bill Jauss), who did advance scouting for the Red Sox before the 2004 postseason, when they beat the Angels, Yankees and Cardinals to end the so-called Curse of the Bambino.

Francona, a generous type, was disappointed players hadn't voted Jauss a full World Series share, so he included a $20,000 check in his Christmas card.

"Dave Jauss busted his ass for us, and I wanted him to know I appreciated it,'' Francona said. "Those reports were great.''

Streaking: Bryce Harper showed signs of a magical season before leaving Florida, going 11-for-11 down the stretch to end the Grapefruit League batting .478. He picked right up when the season started, getting two hits in each of the Nationals' first three games to make him 17-for-23 over this span.

Harper homered on his first swing of the year and again in his second at-bat Monday. It was the 20-year-old's first opening day.

"I knew way before the game he wasn't going to be fazed about anything," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He's totally committed to having a good year. I mean, he had a phenomenal spring. Best spring maybe I've seen anyone ever have. And continuing on."

progers@tribune.com

Twitter @ChiTribRogers

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