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The Atlanta Braves said they will make a decision next week on whe

November 14, 1985

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Atlanta Braves said they will make a decision next week on whether to try to sign veteran pitcher Phil Niekro, who was released by the National League club after the 1983 baseball season.

Niekro, who will be 47 when the 1986 season opens, won 32 games the past two seasons with the New York Yankees, including No. 300 this year. He is a free agent and can sign with any club.

The Braves have not been in contact with their former pitcher since he filed for free agency last week. Braves General Manager Bobby Cox said Niekro is not being overlooked, but the team is looking in other directions in an effort to improve its pitching staff.

″We’re not on Phil and we’re not off Phil,″ Cox said Wednesday after returning from a scouting trip to the Dominican Republic. ″I think he can still pitch, but we need to look at a lot of things.″

He said the Braves will decide at an organizational meeting to be held next week whether to pursue Niekro.

″We need to weigh what our options are,″ Cox said. ″There are other things we may be able to do.″

At a general manager’s meeting held last week in Tarpon Springs, Fla., Cox held preliminary talks about possible trades to improve the Braves’ pitching, which was among the worst in the National League last season.

Several teams have expressed an interest in first basemen Bob Horner, including the world champion Kansas City Royals, who may be willing to trade off some of their young pitchers.

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