EDITORIAL: With Griffey injured, it’s `Prime Time’

After tearing up Triple-A baseball in this season’s campaign, Deion Sanders plans to rejuvenate his baseball career and return to the major leagues for the first time since 1997.

Playing for the minor league team, the Louisville Riverbats, 33-year-old Sanders recorded 34 hits, a 494 on-base percentage and .689 slugging percentage in 19 games. The 14-10 Griffey-less Reds are welcoming Sanders with open arms and plan to promote him Tuesday.

After forcing a trade that brought him to Cincinnati last season, Ken Griffey Jr. didn’t have the ideal first season in his National League debut. After a year full of sub-Griffey performances, Junior made his final start on Sept. 11 due to various physical problems.

The 2001 season started out with more of the same bad luck for Griff, who’s been placed on the 15-day disabled list after he partially tore the lower part of his hamstring in a spring training game earlier this year.

With Griffey out, Sanders should be able to help the Reds with his speed on the bases and in the outfield. He also gives them a new option as a lead-off hitter.

Sanders originally came to fame by showing his ability to play two sports at the professional level. Also a member of the NFL Redskins and an eight-time Pro Bowler, Sanders is attempting to return to baseball after a three-year absence. Amazing.

Baseball is arguably the hardest sport to return to after an extended leave of absence. Sanders already has proved his athleticism as a two-sport athlete but has outdone himself this time around.

A human being isn’t supposed to be allowed to have knee surgery one year and decide that he wants to come back the following season to give America’s favorite pastime another shot and within months be on his way back to playing Major League ball.

In baseball, timing is everything, and Sanders showed through his minor league numbers that his timing is definitely on.

Pitchers in the majors, however, are substantially better than pitchers than in the minors. Sanders definitely will be tested from behind the plate. The more Sanders can get on base, the more “Prime Time” can utilize his speed and help the Reds.

Any way you cut it, the Reds are a better team with the addition of Sanders. If all else fails, he brings character and charisma to a ballclub that needs a spark after losing its superstar.