Kelly gambles on Davis in outfield Has uneventful game at bat and in field World Series notes

October 25, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

ATLANTA -- The Minnesota Twins came up a run short two nights in a row, so manager Tom Kelly made a decision he knew might come back to haunt him.

He put full-time designated hitter Chili Davis into the starting lineup in right field last night in the hope that he would jump-start the struggling Twins offense.

"If you look at the games the past couple of days, we've been a little short on offense," Kelly said. "I can't just sit back and not do anything about it."

So, the Twins will be a little short on defense instead. Davis played a total of three innings in the outfield this year. He once was considered a solid defensive outfielder, but his reputation with the glove deteriorated after a 1988 season in which he made 19 errors for the California Angels.

Kelly said on Sunday that he would not be tempted to start Davis in the outfield, but the club's 1-for-18 performance with runners in scoring position in games 3 and 4 helped change his mind. Shane Mack's 0-for-15 performance in the first four games made the difficult decision easier.

"It's tough to send a guy out there 0-for-15," Kelly said. "It's tough on the guy. It's eating him up. It's been rough on him. I had to get him out of there."

Mack apparently would have preferred a chance to rebound at the plate. He was one of the club's most productive hitters during the regular season, and he had six hits, four runs scored and three RBI in the five-game American League playoff.

"The manager makes out the lineup, I don't," he said. "I thought there might be some kind of shake-up. He's made some changes during the season when guys are struggling."

Davis did not seem particularly concerned about reacquainting himself with the outfield. He played center field for the San Francisco Giants in the mid-1980s and played both right field and left for the Angels.

"I played the outfield in the NLCS for the Giants," he said. "Willie Stargell told me once, the last thing you want to do is worry about making an error or a mistake. Try to enjoy the game. That's about what I'm going to try to do."

Kelly has no illusions about Davis' outfield ability. Davis played defense in only two games during the regular season: two innings in a 14-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on July 21 and one inning in a 5-4 extra-inning victory over the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 22.

Asked what his impressions were of Davis as an outfielder with the Angels, Kelly said: "Not good. That's why he is the DH."

Davis was just as candid about his expectations. He feels he is a better outfielder than people might think, but he knew that he was heading into some unfamiliar territory last night.

"I've never won a Gold Glove," he said before the game, "and I probably won't win one tonight."

He says he doesn't yearn to return to the outfield. He hit 29 home runs as the full-time designated hitter, and says the DH rule has been getting some unwarranted criticism.

"I like the DH rule," he said. "I don't see where it hurts the game at all. I think if you took a fan vote, they'd rather see hitters hit and pitchers pitch."

Davis was involved in only one questionable play, and it wasn't that questionable. He ran down a long fly ball by Mark Lemke in the Braves' four-run fourth inning, but the ball glanced off his glove for an RBI triple.

The ball was catchable, but no one could say with certainty that Mack would have caught it if he had been in the game. It would have been an outstanding catch for either of them.

The offensive contribution that Kelly was looking for didn't really materialize. Davis walked and singled, but he was not a major player in the Minnesota lineup.

Three-bag Lemke

Lemke became the sixth player in World Series history to have two triples in a World Series game and the first since Tommy Davis did it for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 3, 1963. Lemke's three triples in the Series is one shy of the Series record set by Tommy Leach of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eight-game Series of 1903.

The Braves and Twins combined for five triples, two shy of the World Series record set by the Boston Red Sox and Pirates on Oct. 10, 1903.

Most runs by NL club

The 14 runs by the Braves were the most scored by an NL team in a World Series game. The previous high was 13, accomplished four times -- most recently by the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the 1982 Series.

Hrbek dropped to seventh

Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek was back in the seventh spot in the batting order last night, after managing just one hit in his first 10 at-bats at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Kelly said before last night's game that the series of threatening phone calls that Hrbek has received in Atlanta might be taking an emotional toll on him.

"I can't answer for him, but he has been a little quiet the past few days," Kelly said. "I don't know if it has had an effect on him, but it has had an effect on his family, and he has been a little quiet."

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