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Furcal chase down to Cubs, Braves, Dodgers

ATLANTA -- Rafael Furcal's agent said Thursday that the Atlanta Braves remain in contention to keep the shortstop, who also is being courted by the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Paul Kinzer, who represents the free agent, said negotiations
are ongoing with all three teams. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry
met with Kinzer and Furcal in Atlanta on Sunday, and Kinzer met
again with Braves officials Wednesday.

Kinzer told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that Furcal isn't expected to decide on a team for "at least the next three days." At one point earlier this week, it appeared Furcal was poised to make a choice by midweek.

However, "with the Dodgers now getting involved, it just complicates [a decision] a little bit," Kinzer told ESPN.com. "We're still talking to all three teams. But now, instead of basically concentrating on two teams, we've just added a third."

Kinzer said Furcal, ideally, would like to make his decision before the winter meetings begin next week. "But there's no drop-dead date."

Kinzer told The Associated Press that more talks with the Braves are planned.

"I'm based out of Atlanta. I'd love to keep him here," Kinzer
said. "Ultimately it's going to be his decision. There has not
been a decision made."

Braves general manager John Schuerholz would not say if the
sides had talked Thursday.

"The talks are continuing," Schuerholz said. "As long as
we're talking, that's what the process is about."

Furcal, Atlanta's leadoff hitter, batted .284 with 12 homers, 58
RBI and a career-best 46 steals last season. He also ranked among
the NL leaders with 11 triples.

"There were more years and more money on the table from a few
other teams," Kinzer said.

"All along he's wanted to go to a city he's comfortable in, a
city and team that he has a good comfort level with. Obviously,
he's interested in his security for the future. So we're going to
sit down and look at all this."

Furcal, the 2000 NL Rookie of the Year, is friends with Cubs
infielders Aramis Ramirez and Neifi Perez, and he has a long
respect for the Dodgers based on that organization's strong
presence in his native Dominican Republic, Kinzer said.

Furcal also has close friends on the Braves, and he sat with
Andruw Jones at Wednesday night's Atlanta Hawks game. Furcal would
not answer questions about negotiations.

"I wish he would come back," Jones said recently. "I know a
lot of teams want a guy like him on their team. People are going to
offer money. I'm just saying, if the Braves don't offer the right
money, other teams are going to pick him up. If they don't offer
the right money, he's probably not going to be back."

The Braves have Wilson Betemit ready as a possible replacement
at shortstop. The 6-foot-3 Betemit has intriguing power potential,
but he is not a leadoff hitter.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.