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Minnesota's Winfield Touches All the Bases : Baseball: Performance in three-game series offers a little bit of everything.

May 13, 1993|SCOTT MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Dave Winfield played first base Wednesday, played it for the first time since 1978 and for only the fourth time in his major-league career.

Seriously.

Why not? It was about the only thing he hadn't done in the Minnesota Twins' three-game series against the Angels.

Winfield, 41, but getting younger every day, also deposited a first-inning fastball from Chuck Finley over the left-field fence to strike the first blow of the Twins' 5-2 victory over the Angels.

The Twins ended up taking two of the three games--the first time the Angels have not won a series in Anaheim this season--and Winfield displayed energy and verve that would have fit in well with the Angels' kiddie corps.

He collected six singles and a home run during the series. He beat out a bunt. He stole a base. He played flawlessly at first on Wednesday before being removed by Manager Tom Kelly for defensive purposes in the eighth.

"Young guys would like to do this," said Winfield, who last played first base 15 years ago for San Diego. "I haven't changed much over the last few years. Every day, pitchers have to throw the ball to me, and I don't think I've given way to Father Time or to the young guns."

With the game in hand and the shadows getting longer, Kelly wanted someone, you might say, whose glove is a little more broken in. Thus, Winfield's removal.

"I played a good, solid, all-around game," Winfield said. "I was pleased. The manager made the right choice in putting in a defensive man. Kent Hrbek is a Gold Glove man. He can really pick it.

"I had no problem coming out."

The re-emergence of Winfield, who had only five hits in his past 41 at-bats (.121) entering the series, would certainly help avoid an early Twin killing this summer. The club had lost eight in a row through May 1 and still has not had a starter pitch a complete game. Entering Wednesday's game, the Twins' pitching staff was last in the American League with an earned-run average of 5.38.

The staff's ERA after 30 games--5.37--was the highest it had ever been at that point since 1961, when the Twins moved to Minnesota.

And the hitting hasn't been much better--Minnesota ranked 12th in the AL before Wednesday's game with a .251 batting average. The first time they put together three consecutive hits in an inning was May 7 in Seattle. And this is a team that led the AL in hitting the last two years.

So despite the Twins' 42 hits in the last three games, Kelly was reluctant to say they turned the corner in Anaheim.

"No, we've got to get our people going," Kelly said. "We still don't have people where we'd like them to be. Some people have good at-bats and then don't have good at-bats.

"Not to single out (designated hitter) Brian Harper today, but his first at-bat was good and then his next three were ridiculous. And he's not the only one. . . . "

Harper, after getting a single, fouled out to first, struck out and popped to right field.

"We're still not getting enough consistency out of the people who are supposed to be consistent," Kelly said. "Our regular people are throwing away at-bats. We need to improve our giveaway at-bats. We're still giving too many away. People like (Lenny) Webster and (Pat) Meares, you understand. Some others need to tighten the ship some."

Winfield, who bumped up his average to .241 by going two for four, agreed.

"We really haven't run off a string of wins," he said. "It took until this road trip to get three hits in a row. And 20% of the season is over.

"Let us run off eight or nine wins in a row and then I'll say, 'OK, we're cooking now.' "

For starters, they may want to put the field back in Winfield. He has shirked his designated-hitter duty in favor of a glove twice this season.

And he has homered in both games.

Just another sappy glove story with a happy ending.

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