BASEBALL / ROSS NEWHAN : The Games Will Be Outside in Atlanta, but It Won't Be Chili

The Minnesota Twins late Sunday night rode the momentum of a 2-0 World Series lead to Atlanta, where the suddenly controversial tomahawk chop isn't the only crucible awaiting them.

They must next contend with Steve Avery and John Smoltz and they have to do it without designated hitter Chili Davis, who shrugged, smiled and said:

"I'll just try to be an overpriced cheerleader and root the guys on."

How absurd. What other business operates with two sets of rules? Both teams use the DH in the American League park. Neither team uses it in the National League park. Now you see him, now you don't.

Davis, who hit 29 home runs and drove in 93 runs as one of Minnesota's principal weapons during the regular season, has come to grips with it as he did a Tom Glavine fastball--or maybe it was a changeup, Davis said--in the first inning Sunday.

He hit a two-run homer that provided the foundation for a 3-2 victory and a sweep of these first two games in the Metrodome.

What this former Angel has not come to grips with is that he has not heard from any of his former Anaheim teammates before or since the playoff victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Davis' move here as a new-look free agent has been chronicled, but he hasn't let it rest there.

He loves to remind the Angels of what they let get away and his good fortune at being with the Twins.

A week ago in Toronto, as the Twins showered in champagne, Davis embraced Minnesota General Manager Andy MacPhail and said: "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

He also said that Dave Winfield owed the Twins and himself an apology for predicting in midsummer that Minnesota would be caught.

Winfield hasn't called. Nor have any of the other Angels.

"I'm very disappointed," Davis said Sunday night. "I've heard from Joe Morgan and Dusty Baker and a couple of my other former teammates (with the San Francisco Giants), but not one Angel has called to congratulate me or wish me good luck.

"I can assure you that if this was reversed, if they were in the playoffs or World Series, I'd have called."

Snubbed by former friends, Davis now has to sit in Atlanta.

Twin Manager Tom Kelly said he wasn't excited by the prospect of watching his pitcher, Scott Erickson, attempt to bat Tuesday night.

"I'm not bitching and I'm not crying, but it's a ridiculous situation," Kelly said. "We play with 27 outs here and 24 there.

"Sure, our pitchers have been taking batting practice and working at it, but are you telling me that a guy who may not have swung a bat in five years can be expected to even bunt against an Avery or Smoltz throwing 90 miles an hour? No way, no chance."

It's a one-way hardship, Kelly said, because National League teams benefit from use of the DH in the AL park, then go home to play the type of game with the type of lineup they have used all year.

"It's absurd," Kelly said, of the difference in rules, "but maybe those National League fans enjoy watching the pitchers try to hit."

Commissioner Fay Vincent has voiced his dislike of the designated hitter, hoping that his owners will pick up on the theme and eliminate it entirely.

"It's been established that I don't care for the DH," he said again Sunday, "but, if we're going to have it, then we should at least have conformity in the World Series.

"It's a real handicap for the American League team which, in many cases, builds a lineup around the DH, then can't use it in the most important games of the year."

Two role players, Greg Gagne and Scott Leius, beat the Braves with home runs in Games 1 and 2. The thought is that the Twins will need their power hitters against Avery and Smoltz, but Kelly said he would not use Davis in the outfield--at least as a starter.

"I'm not going to change the program now," he said. "It wouldn't be fair to Chili or anyone else."

Said Davis: "We've won a lot of games without me in there or contributing."

Davis contributed at a propitious moment Sunday, patience being the key against a finesse pitcher of Glavine's skill, he said.

"He showed me how he won 20, but I was looking for a pitch I could hit hard, got one I could handle and did what I should do with it," he said.

"I thought it was a fastball, but he threw me five straight fastballs the next time I was up and each was harder than the pitch I hit for the homer, so maybe it was a changeup."

Another happy moment in a season unrivaled, he said, for happiness and camaraderie, the implication being that these Twins wouldn't forget to call him.

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