New Phillies manager has some advice for A-Rod

  • LARRY LARUE / The News Tribune
  • Wednesday, November 8, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


The News Tribune

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – The last time Larry Bowa managed in the major leagues, Ronald Reagan was president, Ken Griffey Jr. was in high school and Bowa was a 42-year-old who rarely hid his emotions.

There were a lot of years between the time he was fired in San Diego in 1988 and his accepting the managerial job in Philadelphia last week – and too many times his name never came up.

“I’d be lying if I said it never crossed my mind I wouldn’t get the chance to manage again,” said Bowa, who spent last season as the third base coach of the Seattle Mariners. “It’s a strange occupation, there aren’t that many jobs available. What bothered me most wasn’t that I didn’t get a job, but that in all those years, I never got interviewed.”

As many former players here at the General Managers Meetings can attest, Bowa was a tough player with a banty-rooster’s strut and a fierce competitive nature. A five-time All-Star as a shortstop, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a one-time World Series champion, Bowa retired with the highest career fielding percentage (.980) in big league history.

He’s now third in that category, having dropped behind Omar Vizquel and Mike Bordick.

But ask Bowa about shortstops today and there’s no hesitation. There are a cross-section of great ones – Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Vizquel come to mind.

And then, there is Alex Rodriguez.

“Alex is special, and folks ought to try and appreciate watching him play, because he’s one of those guys who comes along every 50 years or so,” Bowa said. “He’s a student of the game, he respects the game, and from the time he puts his spikes on, he’s preparing to beat somebody.”

Bowa has a lot on his mind these days. For one thing, there are players on the Phillies roster that he’s never seen swing a bat or catch a ball. For another, people keep asking him if he’s surprised he got the job.

“I was the ninth guy the team interviewed and I hadn’t managed in awhile,” Bowa said. “But the people in the Phillies organization knew me, they respected me, and they listened to me. They were looking for someone who was a little more aggressive.”

Bowa laughed.

“That’s me.”

About to jump into the fray with the team he played 12 years with, Bowa cannot help but look back upon his one season in Seattle.

“When I went to work for Lou Piniella, I respected him,” Bowa said, “but by the end of the year I had a lot more respect for him – and I learned a lot. He’s better with strategy, better with preparation, better with people, and he’s a very aggressive manager.

“What you see during the game is a small part of it. Lou’s one hell of a manager.”

And then, there’s that shortstop, the 25-year-old who has been the talk of these GM Meetings because of his free agency. Bowa played for three teams in his career, the Phillies, Cubs and Mets.

He played 2,247 games in the majors, has spent 14 years as a coach, two more as a big-league manager.

Bowa was asked if he had any advice for Rodriguez.

“If he asked, I’d tell him a few things. The kind of player Alex is, the grass isn’t always greener with another team,” he said. “In Seattle, he’s playing for a great GM, a great manager, a franchise trying to improve the team after getting within a couple of games of the World Series.

“No team can guarantee you’ll always be in the playoffs, but if he goes somewhere else, the expectations will change. If he repeats his numbers from last season – and they were great numbers – fans will have expected that and more because he’s the guy with the big contract.

“More than anything, he’ll be expected to make the team win, and no matter how great a player you are, that’s out of your control.”

Bowa’s advice would be simple, he said – stay in Seattle.

“The fans there love him, and the team is willing to move those fences in a bit, which I know he’d like,” Bowa said. “The thing about staying in Seattle is, the fans give him the benefit of the doubt. If he has a couple of bad weeks, they’re behind him.

“You go to a new team, with a lot of expectations, and you have a couple of bad weeks, fans are going to boo you. The media is going to get on you.

“Seattle isn’t going to get out-bid in this process,” Bowa said. “There’s a lot of great reasons to stay, and I hope he does. If he doesn’t, I think I could find room for him in Philadelphia – but if we had to pay him, we probably couldn’t afford 24 other players.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Washington's Sami Reynolds runs the bases against McNeese during an NCAA softball game on Saturday, May 20, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Local softball stars Reynolds, Mahler set for WCWS

Washington’s Sami Reynolds (Snohomish) and Stanford’s River Mahler (Monroe) each play prominent roles on their Pac-12 teams.

Alberto Rodriguez.
Rodriguez puts on power display, leads AquaSox to series win

The 22-year-old outfielder mashed 11 extra-base hits, including six home runs, as Everett took five of seven from Eugene.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for May 22-28

The Athlete of the Week nominees for May 22-28 Voting closes at… Continue reading

Daniel Kim, left, and Ben Borgida, right, chat between holes during the Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament at the Everett Golf and Country Club in Everett, Washington on Monday, May 29, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Kim soars to 4-shot win in 92nd Snohomish County Amateur

The WSU freshman and Kamiak graduate’s 12-under final total was the historic tournament’s lowest since at least 2010.

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge gestures after hitting a solo home-run against the Seattle Mariners during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)
Judge strikes again, Mariners lose to Yankees

Seattle falls 10-2 for a second consecutive lopsided loss.

Cooper Cummings from the United States celebrates after winning a men's downhill during the Cheese Rolling contest at Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, Monday May 29, 2023. The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is an annual event where participants race down the 200-yard (180 m) long hill chasing a wheel of double gloucester cheese. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Arlington High School grad is the big cheese after winning UK race

Cooper Cummings, who grew up in Lake Stevens, defeated a world record-holder in Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake.

Jackson High School is awarded the 2023 WIAA class 4A softball championship trophy in Richland, Wash., on Sat., May 27. (TJ Mullinax/for The Herald)
Jackson wins state title over GP after game called by weather

The Timberwolves win 5-1 to hoist their third state softball trophy since 2018 after a game that ended in unusual fashion.

Lake Stevens’ Grant Buckmiller takes a peek at the clock as he runs to the title in the 4A boys 200 meter dash during the WIAA State Track and Field Championships on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State track: Lake Stevens sprinter Buckmiller blazes to multiple titles

Also, Kamiak’s Kalia Estes and Jaedyn Chase claim championships and more on local title winners and state placers.

The Yankees’ Aaron Judge jogs the bases after hitting his second home run of the game a Mariners first baseman Ty France looks on during the sixth inning of a game Monday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Judge homers twice, Yankees clobber Mariners

Rookie standout Bryce Miller struggles against the New York lineup in Seattle’s 10-4 loss.

Most Read