Originally created 08/19/04

Wade declines to give Bowa vote of confidence



PHILADELPHIA -- Larry Bowa's time as the Philadelphia Phillies' manager could be running out.

General manager Ed Wade declined to give Bowa an endorsement before Wednesday's game against the Houston Astros, saying only, "He's the manager."

Told that comment can be interpreted many ways, Wade replied: "Interpret it any way you want."

The fiery Bowa has come under scrutiny because the injury-plagued Phillies have underachieved this season. They were one game under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind in the NL wild-card race going into Wednesday night's games.

"I do the best I can. That's all I can do," Bowa said in a lengthy pregame session with reporters that lasted more than 30 minutes. "I don't worry about it."

Bowa, a popular shortstop on Philadelphia's only World Series championship team in 1980, is in his fourth season as the manager. He led the Phillies to 86, 80 and 86 wins, respectively, in his first three seasons.

"I don't need any assurances. I know what I can do," Bowa said.

The Phillies came into their first season at new Citizens Bank Park with playoff aspirations. With a $93 million payroll that included a new All-Star closer, a revamped bullpen and a promising starting rotation, the Phillies were favorites to finally overtake Atlanta in the NL East.

But injuries and inconsistency have left Philadelphia looking up at the Braves, who have won an unprecedented 12 straight division titles.

"We never anticipated being a game under .500 on Aug. 18," Wade said. "If we're going to make a run, we have to do it quickly."

Expectations were high coming into the season, especially after the Phillies added pitchers Billy Wagner, Tim Worrell and Eric Milton, and the rest of the division lost star players. Greg Maddux, Gary Sheffield, Javy Lopez and Vinny Castilla left the Braves. World Series champion Florida didn't retain Ivan Rodriguez, Ugueth Urbina and Derrek Lee.

Right from the start, though, the Phillies failed to live up to their hype. They lost six of their first seven games and didn't get over .500 until improving to 15-14 on May 9. Only a mediocre division kept Philadelphia from falling out of the race early.

"It's disappointing," Bowa said. "You keep waiting to win 13 of 15, 10 of 13. We haven't done it."

While the notoriously tough Philadelphia fans have turned on the team, they still support Bowa.

"I would be impatient, too," Bowa said. "They've always been good to me. I don't try to cheat them."

Bowa hasn't been as popular among his players, but has toned down his emotions this season.

"I've been unbelievably calm," he said.