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There's been a lot of newspaper space (and some Web space, as well) dedicated to a potential battle between the archrival Red Sox and Yankees for free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett. But it appears much more likely that the real skirmish between these two hated rivals will be over another free-agent pitcher, Derek Lowe, who is cited by many baseball executives for becoming even more focused in his years out in Los Angeles.

While Burnett has some knocks against him (i.e. his best year always seems to come in his walk year), Lowe is coveted for being consistent, durable and clutch. Like Burnett, Lowe may want at least a five-year deal, and at 35, that's certainly no certainty. But he is drawing interest from a long list of teams, including the Mets, Braves, Phillies, Giants, Mariners and Dodgers. Lowe is believed to prefer a move back East, where he appreciated the extra intensity when he played for the Red Sox from 1997-2004.

Some of that intensity may be directed in a fight over him.

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