Larry Bowa on Phillies: 'That's not big-league baseball'

Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Larry Bowa is angry, and the Phillies bench coach made it public Tuesday in a wide-ranging, 10-minute radio interview that castigated Domonic Brown, Roberto Hernandez and everyone in between.

Bowa, speaking to Tony Bruno and Harry Mays of 97.5 The Fanatic, criticized the team's younger players — specifically Brown — and much of the rotation for its failures to pitch beyond five innings. He characterized the most recent homestand, when the Phillies went 4-7, as one of the worst the 68-year-old baseball lifer has ever seen.

He said he understood fans' dissatisfaction.

"They're very frustrated," Bowa said. "I think they're more frustrated at the way we lose. And they should be. That's not big-league baseball what we've been doing at home. That's not big-league baseball."


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Bowa blamed an "inconsistent offense." He said the core players have done their jobs, but the younger ones have not. The vibe after Monday's 11-2 loss was "bad," Bowa said. The team trained to Washington after.

"It was pretty quiet," Bowa said. "It should be. You have players here in the big leagues who aren't playing like big leaguers. I understand; it's a long season and there are periods of time when I played and things went bad. But we're going into June. And there are some players right now who need to pick it up. There's no question about that."

Bowa wondered how Brown, who has a .576 OPS, arrives at the ballpark with an "upbeat" attitude.

"I don't know how he does that because if it were me, I'd be going nuts right now," Bowa said. "The big thing you have to be concerned about is take away a six-week period from the equation, and the numbers aren't very good. He did most of his damage in those five or six weeks. He made the All-Star team. In fairness to him, he's hit some balls hard lately, but he's not playing the way he is capable of. I just think there's more in there than that. Ryno's playing him every game. I think we're going to find out one way or another if this guy can play up here. That's what you have to do. [Sandberg] has been pretty patient with him. We have to keep going and see what happens.

"It's not like we have a lot of options right now. We have Cody Asche out. We're playing two kids; [Cesar] Hernandez had never played short in a big-league game before. He just started third. [Reid] Brignac came up as an extra man. Yet these guys have big-league uniforms on and they have to start playing better baseball."

Bowa said there is little more instruction the coaching staff can offer. He praised the players for their extra fundamental work at home.

"A lot of this has to do with instinct," Bowa said. "If you don't have good baseball instincts, you can't teach instincts. If you don't have it by the time you get to the big leagues, you're not going to get it. I don't care how much you practice. And there are some people right now showing they don't have the baseball instincts that maybe we thought they had."

The bullpen, Bowa said, was exposed in recent days because of the lack of hitting. Some of the starting pitchers, though, are not exempt from Bowa's disdain. The bench coach said only Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett are capable of pitching into the seventh and eighth innings.

"[Roberto] Hernandez has to go deeper than five innings," Bowa said. "This is the big leagues. This isn't double A. This isn't triple A. The pitchers have to go more than five innings. If you have a big-league uniform on, you have to go more than five innings. What happens? It trickles down."

The Phillies scheduled a team meeting at 3:45 p.m. prior to a series opener at Nationals Park.

"A coach shouldn't be angrier than the players right now," Bowa said. "I hope they're angry."

[Click here to listen to the full interview]

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