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Lowe is ready to listen

He would like to get multiyear extension

With only about two weeks remaining before their deadline for picking up his $5 million option for next year, Derek Lowe said last night he has yet to hear from the Red Sox about negotiating a multiyear extension of his contract. He would be a free agent after next season if the Sox simply exercise the option.

"I'm all ears if anybody wants to get together and talk," said Lowe, one of the Sox linchpins who could start the 2005 season elsewhere. The others who are on track to become free agents after next season include Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, and Trot Nixon.

The Sox have no intention of buying out Lowe's 2004 option for $500,000, as they did with Jeff Suppan rather than pay him $4 million next year. Lowe, 30, has gone 39-15 with a 3.40 ERA since he moved from the bullpen into the starting rotation Sept. 22, 2001. And though he started slow this season after emerging as a top candidate for the Cy Young Award in 2002, Lowe led the Sox with 17 wins (he went 17-7 with a 4.47 ERA) and pitched a team-high 203 1/3 innings. He also gave a spectacular effort to save the clincher against the A's in the American League Division Series.

As for Suppan, he filed yesterday for free agency, as did righthander Robert Person and first baseman David McCarty. Todd Walker filed Sunday. The only other Sox players eligible for free agency are John Burkett, Mike Timlin, Todd Jones, and Bill Haselman. Burkett and Haselman have said they may retire. Walker wants to remain with the Sox. He was one of the most productive second basemen the franchise has had in decades, though the team was not thrilled with his defense and has not seemed eager to meet his market value, which could exceed the $3.4 million he earned this season.

"I'm really hoping to be back," he said. "If I'm not back, it won't be because of me. I love playing there."

Ortiz wants deal After he went from part-time player to legitimate MVP candidate, David Ortiz is anxious to remain with the Sox -- with a longterm deal. Ortiz, who earned $1.25 million this season, is eligible for arbitration and could become a free agent after next year barring a multiyear agreement with the Sox. "They said they would talk about it," he said. "That's what I would like." No one was more of a difference-maker for the Sox than Ortiz, who led the team with 16 game-winning RBIs while he hit .288, slugged 31 homers, and knocked in 101 runs . . . With manager Grady Little gone, several members of his coaching staff may be in jeopardy as well. Bench coach Jerry Narron, third base coach Mike Cubbage, and pitching coach Tony Cloninger are at particular risk because of their close ties to Little. Hitting coach Ron Jackson and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas could survive, though first base coach Dallas Williams's security is less certain . . . The Sox brass went out of their way to thank Little's wife, Debi, for her tireless work for charity.

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