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Hot Stove: Reaching a fever pitch

Hot Stove: Reaching a fever pitch

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Since pitchers are the subject of the most intrigue this offseason, as they typically are in any offseason, it seems appropriate to view the current newsmakers as components of a pitcher's repertoire.

In that spirit, here's how Friday's Hot Stove broke down.

Curve: Derek Lowe

The day after he let his agent visit with the Mets alone, Lowe joined Scott Boras in a Thursday meeting with Braves people that, by some accounts, lasted five hours. The sides were suitably smitten with each other, and the right-hander now waits for an Atlanta offer expected to arrive early next week.

Brushback: Atlanta

The Braves have been low-bridged by intense fan criticism, and dismay, over letting John Smoltz bolt for the Red Sox. To stay the wolves, the Braves may feel more urgency to make a placating move, possibly spurring them to step up, and pay up, for Lowe.

As "one person close to the situation" told the New York Daily News, "They have to do something to try and appease the fans. Smoltz is a huge favorite here. People are screaming about it. ... [It] really turns up the heat on the ballclub."

Changeup: Tim Redding and Kenshin Kawakami

While waiting for the Lowe-down, both the Mets and Braves are taking steps to tend to the back end of their rotations.

The Mets reached a tentative agreement on a $2.25 million deal with Redding, with the former Nats ace due to undergo his physical next week. The 30-year-old right-hander had a lot of suitors after managing a 10-11 record for a Washington club that lost 102 games.

The Braves appeared close to emerging as the winners for Kawakami's services. The 33-year-old Japanese right-hander is due to arrive in the States on Sunday, then join agent Dan Evans in what could be final negotiations with Atlanta.

Screwball: Pedro Martinez

Hot Stove

The right-hander told the New York Post his reasons for wanting to return to the Mets: "I'm anxious to get out there with the team that we have right now. We should be really close to a team that will win it all, and I want to be part of it."

Also according to the Post, Martinez's agent, Fern Cuza, will finally take a meeting next week with general manager Omar Minaya to explore the possibility of the Mets taking back the 37-year-old, who went 17-15 in the final three years of his four-year contract.

Slider: Boras

The agent's renowned M.O. of creating artificial competition for his clients got a little grilling from the San Francisco Chronicle, as it pertains to the Giants' perceived lust for Manny Ramirez.

"Boras is spreading word that the Giants are going to make a big push for Ramirez in the next day or two," the newspaper reports. "The Giants' reaction to that was laughter on the other end of the phone line."

Knuckleball: Randall Simon

He's the former Pirates first baseman who got into some hot pasta a few years ago for taking a bat to the Italian Sausage during one of the Brewers' daily sausage races at Miller Park.

On Jan. 13, the Brewers will hold a tryout in Arizona. Yes, Simon, who is only 33 and played last year for the independent Newark Bears, plans to be there. So does second baseman Mark Bellhorn, among others.

Off-the-mound developments:

• The Red Sox re-signed Mark Kotsay for $1.5 million, and also formally announced their $5 million agreement with right-hander Brad Penny.

• The Royals signed the versatile Willie Bloomquist for two years and approximately $3 million. Bloomquist had a .377 on-base percentage last season, his seventh with the Mariners.

• In Minor League deals, the Dodgers signed left-hander Shawn Estes, and the Orioles brought back Chris Gomez, who spent two years (2005-06) backing up Miguel Tejada at shortstop. Gomez is a well-traveled big league survivor: 2009 would be his 17th season, and his eighth team change.

Tom Singer 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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