The Atlanta Braves said yesterday that Deion Sanders was their starting left fielder and leadoff hitter.
With that, the Atlanta Falcons' "Prime Time" cornerback had accomplished his goal: becoming the first pro athlete to play football and baseball in the same city, on the same field.
Gene Conley had pitched for the Braves in Boston and played basketball for the Celtics there, but on different playing surfaces.
"It's one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, probably the biggest," said Sanders, the Falcons' No. 1 National Football League draft pick two years ago. "It's like the motto I've got taped inside my football helmet: You gotta believe."
* TRADE TALKS: The New York Yankees have offered a trade package involving Jesse Barfield to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Barry Bonds, but a deal is not imminent, according to the Hartford Courant. General manager Gene Michael confirmed that he has talked to the Pirates and will continue to do so but had no other comment other than to say reports that Roberto Kelly and Kevin Maas were the bait are "ridiculous."
"I don't know where people get these ideas," Michael said. "Last week, I read we were trading these guys for Bobby Bonilla. We're not even interested in Bonilla."
At this point, the Pirates are unwilling to offer a contract in the five-year, $20 million range Bonilla seeks and have begun shopping him. The Yankees seemed a good fit because Bonilla is from the Bronx, and the switch-hitter has the power from the left side the club covets. But the Yankees consider Bonilla's asking price too steep.
* RED SOX: Roger Clemens said he was confused and shocked by American League president Bobby Brown's decision upholding a five-game suspension and a $10,000 fine for the pitcher's actions in Game 4 of the playoffs.
Declaring that Brown had "come down hard on me," the two-time Cy Young Award winner said he would carry his appeal to commissioner Fay Vincent.
* REDS: Shortstop Barry Larkin will be sidelined the next few days with a sprained back, but expects to be ready by Opening Day.
* RANGERS: Outfielder Pete Incaviglia cleared waivers, becoming a free agent. Texas must give him 45 days' termination pay of $414,148.
* YANKEES: Right-hander Pascual Perez took another encouraging step in his recovery from rotator-cuff surgery when he threw batting practice for the first time since the operation.
"Nobody expected I'm going to come along so quick," said Perez after a pain-free, 53-pitch stint at Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Stadium.
Perez underwent surgery last August to repair a partially torn labrum, remove a bone spur from the back of the shoulder, and shave down a partially torn rotator cuff.