Ready for football?
Sanders clears out minor league locker, future uncertain
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Deion Sanders hit a home run for Class AAA Syracuse, then cleared out his locker and gave goodbye hugs Thursday night.
Sanders, however, did not say where he was headed -- be it back to the Washington Redskins of the NFL, or elsewhere.
"I want to prepare myself for whatever happens," he said. "You never know."
If Sanders doesn't report to the Redskins by Sunday, he could be found in violation of his NFL contract and risk losing up to $6.8 million of the signing bonus he received from Washington.
Sanders, 33, hit a solo home run and an RBI single as the SkyChiefs beat the Toledo Mud Hens 12-6 in the International League.
In the locker room after the game, Sanders autographed bats, baseballs and footballs for his Syracuse teammates and members of their families.
"He's been a blast. Nobody wants to see him go. Now that he's leaving, nobody wants to see him go," said center fielder Vernon Wells, who had a locker next to Sanders. "But he's in a different situation than most of us can relate to."
Clubhouse attendants and equipment managers collected Sanders' belongings after he left the room and packing them in his Cincinnati Reds travel bag.
Sanders is hitting .337 for Toronto's top affiliate. The Blue Jays, however, have said they have no plans to promote him to the majors.
The Blue Jays signed him to a minor league contract three days after he was released by Cincinnati on July 17. He batted .173 in 29 games for the Reds.
Sanders connected in the sixth inning for his first home run for Syracuse. He also hit one for Class AAA Louisville in April.
When Sanders signed his seven-year, $56 million contract last year, he insisted on a clause allowing him to miss training camp and the first few games of the football season if he were playing baseball.
The Redskins thought little of this provision because Sanders had not played well in his most recent baseball comeback attempt and seemed unlikely to succeed again.
But the contract doesn't just say "baseball." It says "MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL."
In May, Sanders, upset he wasn't kept in the loop when defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes left, trashed the Redskins and new coach Marty Schottenheimer. The Redskins seemed certain to release the defensive back, who costs $3.5 million against the salary cap this year.
However, Schottenheimer worked his way around Sanders' situation by cutting several other players and renegotiating some contracts. Sanders is on record as saying he can't trust Schottenheimer, but the coach says Sanders would be welcome with the Redskins.
"It will all unfold in due time, whatever transpires," Schottenheimer said. "And I have no idea what will happen."