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Cox, Braves turn attention to Lowe

Cox, Braves turn attention to Lowe

ATLANTA -- Derek Lowe and John Smoltz can already compare notes about making the conversion from reliever to starter. Many fans in Atlanta are hoping these two hurlers can also soon brief each other about their former employers.

Distraught by the news that Smoltz plans to pitch for the Red Sox this season, Braves manager Bobby Cox traveled to Turner Field late Thursday morning to meet with Lowe, who is regarded as the best starting pitcher still available on the free-agent market.

Braves general manager Frank Wren arranged this meeting before learning of Smoltz's decision late Wednesday night.

While meeting with Lowe and his agent, Scott Boras, for nearly three hours, Cox was impressed with the veteran hurler's intellect and personality.

"He's a great kid," Cox said. "This guy is first class all the way around. I think he'd love to pitch here. But he's going to keep looking around and we'll see what happens."

More than anything, Thursday's meeting was arranged to give the Braves a better sense of what Lowe and Boras are seeking. Without any details provided, it was evident that they emerged with a sense of confidence.

It's unknown what the Braves have offered Lowe. But there's obvious reason to believe that they're now interested in providing more than the three-year, $36 million offer that the 35-year-old reportedly rejected from the Mets last week.

With their sights previously set on Jake Peavy and A.J. Burnett, the Braves didn't seem to have much early interest in Lowe. But their interest has increased over the past week and on Wednesday, Chipper Jones made a recruiting pitch to the veteran sinkerballer.

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Lowe, who served as a starter and reliever during his days with the Red Sox, could help relieve some of the sting created by the departure of Smoltz, who had pitched for the Braves since making his Major League debut in 1988.

While serving as a starter for the past seven seasons, Lowe has averaged 15 wins and 208 innings. The 35-year-old right-hander went 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA for the Dodgers this past season. He also increased his stock by going 6-1 with a 1.27 ERA in his final 10 starts.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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