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Still ready for Prime Time
Sanders is channeling excitement again in Reds camp
Posted: Wednesday March 07, 2001 12:47 PM
Throughout spring training, CNNSI.com will feature regular dispatches from
Sports Illustrated staffers assigned to scout camps in the Grapefruit and Cactus
By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated
TEAM: Cincinnati Reds
SITE: Sarasota, Fla.
WEATHER: Mid-50s, high
PLAYER I SAW WHOM I REALLY LIKED: Deion Sanders. Yeah, I know. No one
likes Deion Sanders. Well, Sanders started in center field in Tuesday
night's game against one of his former teams, the New York Yankees, and reached
base all three times he came to the plate. He grounded into a 5-4 fielder's
choice in his first at-bat. Had the runner been anyone but Deion (and the second
baseman anyone but Chuck Knoblauch), it would have been a sure double
play. Sanders singled sharply to right in his second at-bat and walked in his
third (which put him on base in front of Sean Casey's three-run homer).
More important than him reaching base was Deion's fleet-footedness once he got
there. After the fielder's choice Prime Time stole both second and third --
easily. Sanders is 33 years old and in his fourth tour of duty with Cincinnati.
He is still under contract to the Washington Redskins and ineligible to join the
Reds until May 1. And, oh yeah, he's also a gazillionaire. But he's still
busting his butt in Sarasota. More power to
Neon notwithstanding, it was hard not to notice Reds right fielder
Michael Coleman, who went 3-for-3 and hit two homers, the second of which
sailed several feet over the 25-foot wall in dead center field. Coleman hit just
.258 last year in an abbreviated season with the Class AAA Pawtucket Red Sox,
but his power was evident in the six home runs he swatted in just 66 at-bats (he
missed most of the season with a dislocated wrist). Coleman hit 30 homers two
seasons ago at Pawtucket. Reds manager Bob Boone says Coleman, acquired
from Boston along with shortstop Donnie Sadler last November for
infielder Chris Stynes, is the favorite to become the Reds' fifth
The Reds beat the Yankees 11-4 in front of a crowd of 7,459, the
largest paid attendance in the history of Sarasota's Ed Smith Stadium. Judging
by the number of fans in the "standing room" areas of the park, you'd
think it was a regular-season game. But then you'd realize the only celebrity in
attendance was Dick
There weren't many stars on the field, either. Neither Bernie
Williams nor Derek Jeter, who is still battling inflammation in his
right shoulder, made the trip from Tampa. Ken Griffey Jr., who has a sore
left hamstring, worked out in Sarasota but left about an hour and a half before
Sadler did not doff his cap for the national anthem. He should be
careful. The Reds changed their name to the Redlegs during the McCarthy era to
avoid being associated with
Sports Illustrated reporter Jamal Greene will check in periodically with
reports from his tour of spring camps.
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