Originally created 05/12/00

Deion out of baseball for now



CINCINNATI -- Deion Sanders is out of baseball once again.

Sanders received permission to leave the Cincinnati Reds' Triple-A farm club Thursday, at least temporarily ending the attempt to revive his baseball career.

The outfielder batted only .200 (21-for-105) for Louisville with 10 stolen bases in 25 games. Sanders had not played baseball since 1997, when he left the Reds to be a full-time cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys.

General manager Jim Bowden said the club agreed to let Sanders return to his home in Dallas, where he'll continue rehabilitating his right knee.

"We want him just to get himself playing 100 percent without the distractions of doing everything else," Bowden said.

Although Bowden said it's possible Sanders could return to baseball this season, it's highly unlikely. Sanders expects to play cornerback in the NFL this fall, possibly for the Washington Redskins.

The 32-year-old Sanders signed a minor league contract with the Reds on Jan. 20 intending to return to the majors. The center fielder's value to the Reds diminished when they traded for Ken Griffey Jr. on Feb. 10.

Sanders had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to fix a football injury on Jan. 24. He was hobbled when he reported for spring training but was running well enough to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment last month.

Sanders had hoped to rejoin the Reds quickly, but his minor league struggles and the Reds' outfield depth became a roadblock.

"Where he's at now baseball-wise, it's my opinion at this point that he cannot help our 25-man roster," Bowden said. "He's probably at 95 to 98 percent, but he's not 100 percent healthy.

"For him to continue what he was doing at Triple A -- he's not making progress. We both feel it's in his best interests to get him 100 percent healthy."