There's enough Kirk Gibson in Derek Lowe that the newest Dodger donned the uniform of the legendary Dodger and didn't blush.
They share Michigan roots, a roguish swagger and the unmistakable glow of World Series star.
Now they also share No. 23.
Lowe, a durable starting pitcher and the most recent addition in a Dodger off-season of rapid change, was introduced Wednesday. He wore No. 32 last fall when he defeated the Angels in the deciding game of the American League division series, the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the league championship series and the St. Louis Cardinals in the game that gave the Red Sox their first World Series title in 86 years.
But Sandy Koufax wore 32, and the number has been retired. So Lowe was only too happy to flip from three-two to two-three, evoking memories of Gibson pumping his arms and circling the bases after his dramatic home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
"I'm from Michigan, I know all about that home run," Lowe said, beaming. "How great is this, to wear this uniform."
While No. 23 passed over the years to Eric Karros and Robin Ventura, the Dodgers haven't returned to the World Series. Lowe, who has more victories than any pitcher besides Bartolo Colon the last three years, made his intentions clear.
"I had discussions with the organization and they are in the process of getting better," he said. "They are going to continue to bring in guys year after year after year. I wasn't going to come here just because Gibson hit a home run in 1988. This organization wants to win."
The Dodgers made a significant commitment to Lowe, signing him for four years at $36 million. He will get $7.5 million this season -- increasing the projected Dodger payroll to about $88 million -- $9 million in 2006, $9.5 in 2007 and $10 million in 2008.
The contract vindicates Lowe in one respect. The Red Sox showed no interest in re-signing him despite his postseason performance. The team's only offer, three years at $27 million, came before the 2004 season and he turned it down.
He struggled late in the regular season en route to a 14-12 record and an alarmingly high 5.42 earned-run average, prompting whispers that he might have cost himself almost as much money as shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, who had turned down a four-year, $60-million proposal in the spring of 2003.
Lowe remained patient while other free-agent starting pitchers signed this winter, though, finally hooking on with the team he said he eyed all along.
"The Red Sox made it perfectly clear right after the World Series that nothing was going to happen with me," he said. "I had offers for more money from other teams, but once the Dodgers stepped forth and showed interest, I told [agent] Scott Boras it would be a perfect fit."
The Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles pursued Lowe, but the idea of changing leagues and playing for a team he believes is committed to winning appealed to him.
"There is something to be said for tradition," he said. "I went into Boston not knowing what it was all about and not knowing what the so-called rivalry was with the Yankees. This winter, my wife told me that I had to find a place with the same intensity.
"I enjoy the expectations of having to perform well and the accountability when you don't do well."
Lowe, 32, is 72-59 in seven seasons and has made at least 32 starts three years in a row. He was the Red Sox closer from 1999 to 2001, racking up 81 saves, including 42 in 2000.
As a starter, he finished third in Cy Young Award voting in 2002 when he went 21-8 with a 2.58 ERA.
His ERA spiked the last two seasons, but he believes his postseason mark of 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA is indicative of what the Dodgers can expect.
"There wasn't a more disappointed guy in baseball than that stretch when I was struggling," he said.
"I'm going to try to take that intensity and focus you have in the playoffs, because it is like no other, and incorporate that every single start this year."
Lowe joins a rotation that also includes proven veterans Brad Penny, Jeff Weaver and Odalis Perez. Kazuhisa Ishii or Edwin Jackson will be the fifth starter. Although there is not a clear No. 1 starter, the rotation appears strong from top to bottom.
"We have four guys that on any given day can match up against any starting pitcher in the league," General Manager Paul DePodesta said.
The Dodgers must give the Red Sox their first-round draft pick this June as compensation for signing Lowe. However, the Dodgers gained a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds, and a second-round pick from the Seattle Mariners, who signed Adrian Beltre.
The last contractual issue the Dodgers have with their pitchers is to reach agreement with the arbitration-eligible Penny and closer Eric Gagne, who must submit their offers by Tuesday.
Penny probably will sign for one year at about $5 million. Gagne wants to avoid arbitration and negotiate a two-year deal. Last season he lost at arbitration despite winning the Cy Young Award and was paid $5 million.