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Neon Deion Joins Braves


Bo knows baseball, football, and rehab. Deion had better know airline schedules.

In this weird and wondrous season for the Atlanta Braves, the weirdest news yet came Tuesday: Deion Sanders, who left the team eight weeks ago to resume his NFL career, will play both sports for the duration of the NL West pennant race.

Bo Jackson, of course, became the most successful two-sport athlete of his generation with the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Raiders.

But Jackson never played two sports in a 36-hour span. Sanders, from all indications, plans to do just that this weekend; running back punts for the Falcons in Atlanta Sunday afternoon; running over travelers at Hartsfield airport Sunday night; and then running the bases for the Braves in Cincinnati Monday night.

Even as the Braves try to vault from worst to first, this is weird.

How much all this will eventually trouble the Los Angeles Dodgers--who enjoyed a 1.5 game lead when the Braves summoned Sanders on Tuesday--remains to be seen.

After all, it's not as if Braves general manager John Schuerholz found a 28-year-old Henry Aaron hanging around and got him a uniform. Sanders hit just .193 in his 49 games with Atlanta this season, with four homers and 13 runs batted in.

But he was nine-for-12 stealing bases, and therein lies the reason for all this. With Otis Nixon, the major league's stolen base leader, suspended for a drug violation, the Braves need all the speed they can get.

Thus the announcement Tuesday from team spokesman Jim Schultz: Sanders was being added to the roster "for the remainder of the season."

Schuerholz, at a news conference before Tuesday's game, said Sanders would be in uniform for nine of the Braves final 12 games. He said Sanders would miss this weekend's three-game series in Houston.

"We had talked with other clubs trying to acquire a speed guy," Schuerholz said. "We decided if Deion wanted to do it, as he said he did, we'd go ahead and give him the opportunity.

"I spoke to [Falcons president] Taylor Smith as a courtesy," he continued. "I called to tell him, and he just said he appreciated our calling."

"We just hope he doesn't get hurt and we want him to keep focused on football," Smith said in a statement. "We've got a big game coming up this weekend against an undefeated division rival."

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