Originally created 09/06/97

Sanders too sore to play final day with Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) - A sore Deion Sanders asked out of the Cincinnati Reds' lineup Friday, his final day before returning to the Dallas Cowboys full-time.

Sanders strained his right hip during a 5-2 victory Thursday night over Pittsburgh and suggested that manager Jack McKeon let someone else start his last game with the Reds.

"I don't want to be out there when I know I'm not 100 percent and there are fresh guys who are," Sanders said. "Hopefully I'll get to pinch hit."

Sanders has a bulging disc in his lower back that required two cortisone injections last month and was a factor in his decision to drop the two-sport status.

He came up limping after running out a grounder in the fifth inning Thursday, but stayed in the game. He went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .273.

"It's been like that for a few days," Sanders said of his back.

He planned to see a chiropractor before flying home on Friday night. He's listed as probable for the Cowboys' game on Sunday at Arizona.

Even though he couldn't play baseball on Friday, he had no concerns about suiting up against the Cardinals.

"I should be OK," he said. "That's two more days."

Although Sanders will miss Cincinnati, he was eager to enter the next phase of his sports career. Sanders is going through a divorce and the increased travel demands from playing two sports prevented him from seeing his two children as much as he wanted.

He was flying home to see them on Friday night.

"I can't wait to get there," he said. "My kids are there."

McKeon had no problem with Sanders asking out of the lineup on his final day.

"I didn't want to take him out, but I can see why he'd want to come out," McKeon said. "He's got a big game Sunday. He said, `I can't give you what I'm capable of giving, so put one of the kids out there.' I'd rather have that than guys going out and not playing up to their capabilities. That can hurt you."

Sanders' unusual contract arrangement with the Reds allowed him to leave baseball when the Reds were eliminated from contention. With elimination only a matter of time, the Reds gave him permission to go.

"If I was in his shoes, I'd do it," McKeon said. "I think if we were close with a chance to win, he'd definitely forget the football and stay here."

Sanders' decision created hardly a ripple in Cincinnati but delighted the Cowboys, who want to return to the Super Bowl this season. Sanders has a much bigger impact - and much higher profile - in football.

"I think he's a tremendous asset to the National Football League because he's got tremendous charisma," McKeon said. "On a one-day-a-week basis, everybody knows who he is. He shines on that one day.

"In baseball, you have your ups, you have your downs. You have your good days, you have your bad days. If somebody studied him during the baseball season, they'd say, hey, the guy's got a lot of talent. But you have to know baseball to understand that."


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