MINNEAPOLIS -- The Atlanta Braves don't figure to make any major changes during the off-season, not after a season in which their youthful nucleus literally grew into the World Series.
But that might bring a caveat from the two teams that went to the Series last year. Both the Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds fell on hard times in 1991, which only proves that you can't win them all.
Braves general manager John Schuerholz said there is no comparison. The Braves are a team still in the early stages of their development, with young stars such as David Justice, Ron Gant and Steve Avery contractually obligated to the team for several more years.
"The circumstances are different," Schuerholz said. "It would make more sense to look at the Oakland A's three or four years ago, because their young players were three or four years younger. The makeup of this club is somewhat different than those two teams."
The Braves don't figure to have a very busy winter. They have to decide what to do about Otis Nixon, who can go to arbitration with the club, but will not be eligible for free agency until his 60-game suspension expires sometime in April. (Deputy commissioner Stephen Greenberg said that Atlanta's postseason would count against the suspension, meaning Nixon would have to sit out only the first 18 or 19 days next season.) They also have to try to re-sign relief pitcher Alejandro Pena, who made a major contribution to the club's division title drive. Relievers Jim Clancy and Doug Sisk, but they will not be as high on the priority list.
Commissioner Fay Vincent marvels at how superstitious baseball people can be. He noticed in Atlanta that Braves first-base coach Pat Corrales came over and shook his hand at the same time before each of his club's three victories.
"I was sitting beside their dugout," Vincent said. "He came over today and said 'How am I going to shake your hand when you're on the other side.' I told him that was his problem. He said, 'I'll be over there.' "
Aaron on free agency
Braves senior vice president Hank Aaron remains skeptical of free agency, even though his club made one of the best free-agent acquisitions of last winter when they signed Terry Pendleton to a four-year contract.
"I don't know if I'm a fan of free agency," he said. "I'm leery of it because of what I see going on in cities like Pittsburgh. It's unfair to their fans. It looks like [Bobby] Bonilla is going to walk away from that ballclub. It's unfair to the community. I'm in favor of players getting all that they can, but there has to be a better system than that."
Aaron said that Braves officials had their doubts about Pendleton, but gambled because they needed to improve the right side of their infield. The gamble paid off in a big way. Pendleton bounced back from a mediocre 1990 season to win the National League batting title and help lead the club into the playoffs.
"I'm sure everybody was skeptical," he said. "Sometimes, you have to be lucky. You have to pick the right veteran player. Pendleton came over here and wanted to show everyone that he could still play baseball."
Braves contingency plans
The Braves were scheduled to stay overnight in Minneapolis regardless of the outcome of last night's game and were scheduled to have a parade in Atlanta regardless of the outcome of the series.
The downtown celebration was scheduled before last night's game. It will take place on Tuesday at noon.
The Twins bullpen, which went the first 22 1/3 innings of this postseason without allowing an earned run, entered last night's game having given up 13 earned runs in its last 7 1/3 innings. . . . The matchup between Scott Erickson and Avery was the third youngest in World Series history. The 1981 matchup between Dave Righetti and Fernando Valenzuela is the youngest. Erickson and Avery in Game 3 is No. 2.