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MANTO DECIDES TO RETURN TO HERD

Nail down the fences. Jeff Manto is coming back to North AmeriCare Park.

Manto, one of the Bisons' most prolific sluggers of the modern era, called general manager Mike Buczkowski Sunday morning to inform him he was accepting his minor-league assignment to Buffalo. Manto may rejoin the team as soon as Tuesday night's NAP doubleheader against Ottawa.

Manto was designated for assignment by Cleveland on Wednesday and had returned home to suburban Philadelphia to await his fate.

Once he cleared waivers, his choices were to accept another trip to Buffalo, declare free agency or retire.

"We understand he'd like to be in the major leagues like everybody else and that he's not happy," said manager Jeff Datz. "But we love him here."

"We're glad we're getting him back, but who knows what will play out with guys the first part of September."

Manto has 39 homers with Buffalo the last two seasons, and his ratio of one every 9.13 at-bats is a modern-era record. The Bisons are 70-35 with him on the roster.

Manto is hitting .314 in 48 games for Buffalo this season with 19 home runs and 49 RBIs. If he hits one more homer, the '98 Bisons would become the first Buffalo team since the 1961 Junior World Series champions to have four players with 20 home runs.

Phil Hiatt, who has gone homerless since connecting Aug. 12 at Syracuse, leads the Bisons with 29. Alex Ramirez has 28 and Richie Sexson belted 21 before being called up to Cleveland.
The Syracuse SkyChiefs made a big free-agent addition this weekend with the signing of former Indianpolis outfielder Alonzo Powell, the batting leader in Japan's Central League in 1994, 1995 and 1996 while with the Chunichi Dragons.

Powell, 33, is best remembered by Bisons' fans as the right fielder on Indianapolis' American Association championship teams in 1987, 1988 and 1989. Powell was with the Hanshin Tigers this year before asking for his release. He has major league experience in 1987 with Montreal and 1991 with Seattle.

Powell scored the winning run on a Ben Candelaria single in the bottom of the ninth in Saturday's 4-3 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Buffalo center fielder David Miller sat out his second straight game with the flu Sunday. Shortstop Jolbert Cabrera moved to center field in Miller's place. Enrique Wilson played short and Jeff Branson, down on injury rehabilitation, made his first start at second base after playing third the last two days. . . . The start of the game was delayed by rain for 22 minutes. In one of the season's more bizarre sights, a groundskeeper continued to water the home plate area during the hard shower before the tarp was finally pulled over the field. . . . The series concludes at 7:15 tonight (Empire, Radio 1520) with Buffalo's Eddie Priest (6-4) meeting IL strikeout-leader (129) Richie Lewis (5-6).

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