Sunday, February 27, 2000

Five Questions With: Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        Deion Sanders' locker in the Reds clubhouse is right next to Barry Larkin's. Not a bad spot for a lifetime .266 hitter, who has been out of baseball for two years and is in camp as a non-roster invitee. But Sanders, of course, is not your typical bargain basement free agent.

        His star status falls right between that of Larkin and that of Ken Griffey Jr. Sanders is one of the best football players on the planet and one of the most recognizable stars in any sport.

        When Dick Vitale visited camp, one of the first players he went to see was Sanders. Sanders told Vitale: “I got to give you credit. Brothers have been doing what you're doing on the playground for years. Talking about primetime players and all that. But you put it on TV and made a lot of money.”

        Sanders had some success at baseball. He hit .273 and stole 56 bases in 115 games when he played with the Reds in 1997.

        He's looked sharp so far in camp, although he's been limited by a knee injury. Still, barring a trade, he is a long shot to make the Opening Day lineup.

        Sanders took time Thursday to answer five questions from Enquirer reporter John Fay:

        1. Outfield picture is obviously very crowded here. If you don't make the team out of camp, would you consider playing the minor leagues?

I don't think like that. I always look at the best case scenario. I don't think in terms of things not working out — ever. That's last thing I think about. I think about leading off on Opening Day.

        2. Why Cincinnati? It seems like if you're going to play baseball it's the Reds or no one?

I wouldn't say that. But Cincinnati is very dear to me. Guys like Barry Larkin make me feel welcome here. Jim Bowden and I have a great relationship. And Cincinnati is the city where I came to know Christ. I'm very at ease and comfortable there.

        3. After a full football season, don't you just want to rest?

No, not at all. What is rest? I'm having fun here.

        4. What's tougher: hitting off Greg Maddux or guarding Jerry Rice?

        Hitting a baseball is definitely the hardest thing in sports to do. Not only for me but for a lot of guys. But guarding Jerry Rice isn't easy either. I just make it look easy.

        5. The owner the Dallas Mavericks talk about you possibly playing basketball. What kind of basketball player are you?

A good one. Very entertaining. I'm a little bit of Magic (Johnson), a little bit of (Michael) Jordan, a little bit (Allen) Iverson. Mix in a little Gary Payton, coupled with ... (at that point Sanders laughs at his own joke).


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