ATLANTA — In a bid to add right-handed punch to their lineup, the Atlanta Braves traded two-sport outfielder Deion Sanders to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday for two-time All-Star outfielder Roberto Kelly.
The deal apparently was an ideal match for both clubs. The Reds were seeking a leadoff hitter, having used shortstop Barry Larkin there recently.
The trade was made moments before both clubs were scheduled to play Sunday and both players were replaced in the starting lineups.
The announcement of the trade during the second inning of the Braves' game against the Chicago Cubs was greeted by boos from the fans at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
"We felt like we needed another right-handed hitter to balance our lineup," Atlanta General Manager John Schuerholz said in announcing the trade five minutes before the Braves took the field.
"We got an All-Star right-handed hitter," Schuerholz said, adding that Kelly, 29, would be used in the leadoff spot.
Cincinnati General Manager Jim Bowden said the need for a "pure leadoff hitter" was the reason for the deal.
"Deion is that," Bowden said. "Our team was too right-handed. This will be a good fit for both teams."
Sanders said he thought Schuerholz was behind the trade.
"I can't see (Manager) Bobby Cox saying, 'Let's get rid of Deion,' " Sanders said.
Sanders was an an All-Pro defensive back with the Atlanta Falcons, but the team rescinded his status as a transition player last month and made him an unrestricted free agent.
"He is an exciting player," Bowden said. "He's a great athlete, probably the fastest runner in baseball today. He has the type of personality that can help us sell tickets."