Come out swinging
Redskins still awaiting decision of CB Sanders
Updated: Friday July 27, 2001 12:50 AM
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- Three words printed in capital letters on his contract -- "MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL" -- have painted Deion Sanders into a corner.
As some of his Washington Redskins teammates gathered Thursday for the first day of pre-training camp workouts, the world's flashiest cornerback-outfielder was still on the roster of minor league baseball's Syracuse SkyChiefs.
His options are running out. And it's his move.
"It will all unfold in due time, whatever transpires," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "And I have no idea what will happen."
Talk of Sanders nearly overshadowed the other absentees at Redskins Park, even though he doesn't have to report until the start of training camp Sunday. The minicamp is for rookies and selected veterans, so unsigned first-round pick Rod Gardner and second-round selection Fred Smoot were the major no-shows. Their fates are intertwined with Sanders' because of the salary cap.
Fourth-round pick Sage Rosenfels, a quarterback from Iowa State, practiced after signing a three-year deal.
When Sanders signed his seven-year, $56 million contract last year, he included a clause that would allow 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, 33, didn't play 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." That also seemed immaterial when Sanders went 3-for-3 in his May 1 debut with the Cincinnati Reds, but his play plummeted and he was released June 22 after batting .173 in 32 games.
Sanders joined the SkyChiefs in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization. The Blue Jays have shown no interest in promoting him - he was batting just .245 through Wednesday.
There are plenty of possibilities.
Sanders could stay with the SkyChiefs, but he'd risk losing up to $6.8 million, a prorated portion of his Redskins signing bonus. He could wait until Aug. 1 to decide -- Sanders' agent, Eugene Parker, has floated the notion that Sanders could be promoted if the Blue Jays trade an outfielder at the July 31 deadline. He also could retire from football, though that seems unlikely.
Or he could report to the Redskins on Sunday.
Wide receiver Michael Westbrook said there would be no problems if Sanders "comes out and plays like he wants to play, and he shows he's got our back like we've got his back."