Sanders aims at another 20-plus homers for a seventh team in KC

Monday, March 20, 2006

The former Cardinals outfielder looks to still go strong at age 38.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Reggie Sanders has hit 20 or more home runs for a Major League record six different clubs.

He first hit 20 in 1993 with Cincinnati and also had 28 in 1995 with the Reds. He hit 26 in 1999 with San Diego; 33 in 2001 to help Arizona win the World Series; 23 in 2002 with San Francisco; and 31 in 2003 with Pittsburgh. The past two seasons with St. Louis he hit 22 in 2004 and 21 in 2005.

This year Sanders, a 38-year-old outfielder with 14-plus seasons in the majors, will try to extend his 20-plus record to seven teams. He signed a two-year contract in the off-season with the Kansas City Royals, his eighth club but his first in the American League.

"I hold the record, but I wasn't aware of that and then it was brought to my attention," Sanders said. "Once I understood that, it was pretty cool. I'm going to add to it. You've got this right."

Sanders can reach some meaningful milestones in 2006. He enters this season needing eight home runs to reach 300, 77 RBIs to reach 1,000, three stolen bases to reach 300 and 20 runs to reach 1,000.

The Royals, who ranked last in the American League with 126 home runs last season, need Sanders' power production in the middle of their lineup. He is penciled in to bat clean up and offer protection to No. 3 hitter Mike Sweeney, who led the 2005 Royals with 21 home runs.

Sanders is familiar with the job description. He batted fourth last season. for the Cardinals, behind Albert Pujols.

"I always said I see myself as what the team wants me to be," said Sanders, who batted leadoff in 1998 with the Reds. "I've hit everywhere. I've done it all."

Sanders was limited to 93 games last season after breaking his right fibula in a July 15 outfield collision with teammate Jim Edmonds. In the playoffs against Houston, he suffered whiplash, but missed just one game.

"That was painful," he said.

Sanders has been in the playoffs in five of the past six seasons with four different teams. Sanders, however, may have this October off. He joins a Royals' team that has lost 210 games the past two years and have lost 100 or more games in three of the past four seasons. The Royals have not sniffed the playoffs since 1985.

The Royals want Sanders not only for his bat, but to foster a winning attitude in a clubhouse where losing has been too commonplace in recent seasons.

"Winning is an attitude," Sanders said. "Winning is being able to go out to have a relentless attitude. Yeah, you can teach that. It is going to take a lot to understand. It is a group effort, not an individual effort. We have to try to embed that in their heads."

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