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BRAVES SIGN FREE AGENT MAHLER

Pitcher Rick Mahler is back with the Atlanta Braves, who signed him as a free agent.

Mahler, 37, was released by the Montreal Expos on Monday, and the Braves claimed him on Friday. Atlanta will be responsible for the remaining portion of Mahler's $250,000 contract.Manager Bobby Cox said the right-hander will be used mainly as a long reliever, but "he could be used as a spot starter if anybody gets hurt or something happens."

Mahler originally signed with Atlanta as a free agent in 1975, and he had a 78-88 record with the Braves through 1988. He won five opening-day starts for them.