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Tuesday, July 1
Updated: July 2, 11:59 AM ET
Marlins will try to sign Lowell to long-term deal

Associated Press

MIAMI -- Mike Lowell won't be leaving his hometown team anytime soon.

Mike Lowell

Florida's third baseman, who grew up in Miami, went to college there at Florida International and whose Cuban roots add to his local popularity, was told by team officials Tuesday that he will not be traded this season.

The announcement by general manager Larry Beinfest ends weeks of speculation and rumors that Lowell would be shipped out by the low-budget Marlins, especially since the 29-year-old is eligible for salary arbitration this offseason.

"It relieves a lot of uncertainty,'' Lowell said. "I'm glad. I can focus on this year and I hope we can win. We're playing good ball and we'll see what happens from there.''

Lowell is having his best season for the Marlins, where he's played for five seasons. Entering Tuesday, he was tied for the National League lead in home runs with 25 _ one more than the career high he set last year.

Lowell also entered Tuesday third in the NL in RBI (68) and seventh in runs scored (55). The Marlins will consider making a long-term commitment to Lowell down the road, Beinfest said.

"We are going to think about multiyear opportunities for him,'' Beinfest said. "We'd like for him to think about them as well and at the appropriate time we'll talk to him and his agents.''

Lowell said ideally, he would finish his career with the Marlins _ but only if the organization is committed to winning.

"It's human nature to want to play for a winner,'' Lowell said. "My own ties here make me optimistic that it could be done here. This is what I want. This is how I want it to happen.''

Tuesday's impromptu news conference with Beinfest was unusual, since team officials have been mum on rumors and speculation regarding trades and Lowell's future with the club.

"We wanted to put Mike at ease,'' Beinfest said. "We wanted to put the ballclub at ease. We thought that it was important.''

The Marlins, who were 10 games under .500 eight weeks ago, took a 42-42 record into Tuesday night's game against first-place Atlanta.

Florida entered Tuesday 5 1-2 games behind wild-card leader Philadelphia.

"Right now, we are there,'' Beinfest said. "We can do it ourselves. We're not 10 games back anymore. We're at .500, so I think you can realistically start saying 'Yes, we have a chance.'''

The team was two games over .500 last July 11 when it traded away outfielder Cliff Floyd _ the last holdover from the 1997 World Series team _ and pitcher Ryan Dempster.

Beinfest and team officials met with Lowell before Tuesday's game to tell him of their decision.

"I was glad that our next road trip, when we go to Chicago, won't turn into 800 questions about if I'm going to be a Cub or not,'' Lowell said.

Manager Jack McKeon said he believed all along that the team would not trade Lowell away. McKeon also said team officials have indicated to him that they intend to keep the core of the young team together for now.

"I said all along that I thought he'd be here,'' McKeon said. "A lot of people doubted me, but I was real happy to hear the news. He's a very important cog in our ballclub.''

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