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Anderson makes Braves debut


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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Considering that he was still looking for a job two weeks ago, Garret Anderson wasn't going to be overly concerned about what he did during his Grapefruit League season debut.

The 36-year-old outfielder has been attending Spring Training for most of the past two decades, and over the course of time, he's learned that the success of preseason preparations isn't measured via results.

While making his Braves debut in an 8-4 win over Venezuela at Disney's Champion Stadium on Thursday afternoon, Anderson went hitless in two at-bats. His first-inning fly ball was secured by Endy Chavez in center field and his fourth-inning at-bat resulted in a harmless pop fly.

"It's part of the process," Anderson said. "It's work. That's how I approach it. You just try to get your work in. At this point of the preseason, your swing isn't going to be there. But you try to have quality at-bats and try not to venture too far out of the strike zone. You can control that to some degree."

Braves manager Bobby Cox, who has long been a big fan of Anderson's swing, says his new left fielder will be back in the lineup on Friday night against the Astros.

Anderson, who has compiled a .296 batting average and 2,368 hits during his career, knows that he has plenty of time to prepare for the start of the regular season. He's not setting a certain number of at-bats that he'd like to compile during the exhibition season.

"It's how you're reacting to the pitchers and how you're tracking the pitches," Anderson said. "Hits don't always equate to where you're at. The hits, obviously, during the season [are] all that matters. But down here, it's about getting to the ball and practicing correct mechanics."

While Anderson was the most significant addition to Cox's lineup, Derek Lowe was the most significant addition to the starting rotation. Making his second start of the exhibition season during Thursday's game against Venezuela, the 36-year-old right-hander struggled through some early control problems and then retired the final eight batters that he faced.

"My career ERA in the first inning is my worst," Lowe said. "For me, unfortunately, that seems to be the norm. I'm not always going to give up a run in the first inning, but there always seems to be some kind of excitement. Then once you get in the flow of a game, you're normally OK. Today was no different. I just wanted to get the crowd into it a little early."

The drum-pounding Venezuelan crowd was dancing in the aisles when Lowe issued a pair of walks and uncorked two wild pitches before recording his second out of the afternoon. Courtesy of a curveball and a changeup in the dirt, Endy Chavez was able to advance to third and toward the plate uncontested.

"Like I said, I was just trying to get the crowd into it, and I think I did a good job," Lowe said.

After the second wild pitch, Lowe struck out Miguel Cabrera and began the streak where he'd retire the final eight batters that he faced. The veteran sinkerballer's next start will come on Tuesday, when the Braves host the Astros.

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