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Reds Give Sanders Another Chance

January 25, 2001

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Deion Sanders, who snubbed the Cincinnati Reds when they tried to call him up from the minors last season, is getting another chance to play for their Triple-A team.

The Washington Redskins cornerback got a nonguaranteed minor league contract Wednesday to play for Triple-A Louisville. He’ll report to Sarasota, Fla., with the rest of the Reds’ minor leaguers on March 4.

Because Sanders filed for free agency and the contract was agreed to after the Dec. 7 deadline, it will be scrutinized by the commissioner’s office.

In similar situations in the past, all other major league teams and the players’ association have had to waive objections to deals agreed to after the deadline.

Reds general manager Jim Bowden is one of Sanders’ biggest fans and has repeatedly given the two-sport professional a chance to resurrect his baseball career. Bowden didn’t immediately return a phone message Wednesday.

Sanders, 33, returned to baseball last spring after a year of concentrating solely on his NFL career. He couldn’t run during spring training because of a football injury to his knee, which required arthroscopic surgery.

Sanders opened the season in Louisville, batted .200 and decided to go home rather than to continue playing in the minors. Bowden gave him permission to return to Texas on May 11.

When outfielder Alex Ochoa had an emergency appendectomy in late May and went on the disabled list, Bowden called Sanders about returning to the Reds to take his place. Sanders turned him down, saying he wanted to concentrate solely on football.

The Reds then put Sanders on a restricted list. In November, they declined a contract option for 2001 that would have paid him $3 million.

That contract also included mutual options for $4 million in 2002 and $5 million in 2003.

It is unlikely the Reds would be given permission to use Sanders in a major league game before May 1, the first day they technically are allowed to re-sign him under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

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