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Lowe not concerned with outing


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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Whether he'd surrendered four runs or worked two perfect innings, Derek Lowe was going to return to the clubhouse and display that same vibrant personality that he's possessed throughout most of his Major League career.

While it might have been the first game that he's pitched in a Braves uniform, it was also just another late-February Grapefruit League start. Thus after allowing five hits and one earned run in two innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon, Lowe simply viewed the outing as one that moved him one step closer toward the start of the regular season.

"How do you analyze two innings? " Lowe said. "I think it's impossible. Good, bad or indifferent, you just try to get more consistent. "

During his two-inning Grapefruit League season debut, Lowe pitched around a pair of ground-ball singles in a scoreless first inning and then used his slider to minimize the potential damage that the Blue Jays created by opening the second inning with three consecutive singles.

"All he gave up was singles, and just one of those was a line drive," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Everything else was on the ground, but one popup. He had a good day."

Lowe, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract with the Braves in January, would have preferred to show more consistency with the location of his sinker. But the ground-ball wizard was ultimately happy that just one of his six outs was registered in the outfield.

The two hardest balls hit against Lowe came courtesy of Alex Rios' first-inning flyout to deep center and Jason Lane's second-inning RBI single to left.

"I'm not a fool, I understand what a ground ball is and what a hard, line-drive ground ball is," Lowe said. "Some [of the hits] were hard line-drive ground balls. So you think, 'Maybe the ball isn't sinking.' It's hard to critique two innings. But as long as you're throwing strikes and having them hit the ball on the ground, then it's good for the first time out."

Lowe, who will likely start the April 5 season opener against the defending World Series-champion Phillies, opted to begin throwing his slider after Lane produced the third consecutive single to begin the second inning.

While the results might have been insignificant, Lowe was happy with the fact that he was given the opportunity to work out of trouble. The 35-year-old right-hander ended his outing in impressive fashion with consecutive strikeouts of Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill.

"You want to go out there and work," Lowe said. "Granted, you don't want to get shelled. You want to be able to have to make pitches. In a perfect world, you go six up and six down in 15 pitches.

"But there's nothing wrong with getting tested early and feeling like I have to make a pitch here and not let a guy score. It's a mind game you have to play with yourself, and the longer Spring Training goes, you won't have to do those things."

Lowe said that he'll likely get a better feel about where he stands in his preseason preparations when he's given the opportunity to work at least four innings. He's scheduled to pitch three innings when the Braves host Venezuela's World Baseball Classic team Thursday at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.

"I think the main thing with anybody in Spring Training is that you want to be able to throw the ball over the plate," Lowe said. "Hits are going to happen. Nobody wants to get in a mechanical funk where you don't feel that you can locate."

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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