Larry Bowa tugged the white Phillies “P” on his chest Friday afternoon, a few hours after the organization informed him that he would be a free agent after the weekend.
“My No.1 priority is to wear this,” Bowa said, raising the team emblem before heading to batting practice.
General manager Matt Klentak told Bowa, the team’s bench coach, and the other coaches that Pete Mackanin’s replacement as manager would be the one to decide if any members of the staff would return in 2018. Bowa — who is in his 33rd season with the Phillies as either a player, manager, or coach — said he would take any role to stay with the Phils, even a front-office job.
“This is my home. This is where I grew up. People recognize me as a Phillie,” Bowa said. “I just think that, I’m still, age-wise, what, 71, but you guys see me work everyday. I’m relentless when it comes to that. So if they have something in mind, I’m going to sit down and talk with them and see where it goes.”
Bowa interviewed for Miami’s manager job after the 2015 season and is willing to seek employment with another team if the Phillies do not offfer him anything. He planned to return as bench coach if Mackanin was still the manager. It would be a surprise if the Phillies were not able to find a role in some capacity for Bowa.
“All I can tell you is I’ve been in this uniform longer than anybody, since the Phillies existed,” Bowa said. “My No.1 priority is to stay in this organization. That’s No.1. And if I’m not, then I’ll look for other stuff. But right now, I want to stay in this organization.”
Mackanin did a great job, Bowa said. But Bowa was not surprised to see his friend removed. Stay in baseball long enough, Bowa said, and “you’re not shocked by anything.” Bowa entered the clubhouse with Mackanin before Friday’s game to inform the team of the news.
“I was just kind of like ‘Wow.’ It’s not something that you ever expect or know when something like that is coming,” Cameron Rupp said. “I guess that’s just the nature of the business when they believe it’s time to make a change.”
Rhys Hoskins said Mackanin, who has spent 49 consecutive seasons in professional baseball, has experience that is “pretty invaluable.”
“He was able to pass that off to some of us young guys,” Hoskins said. “I think being around him for the 50 games that I was up here is something that I’ll remember, especially as my first manager in the big leagues.”
Next season will include a new manager and alterations to the roster. Rupp, like Bowa, knows his future in Philadelphia is unclear. And now they wait.
“There’s going to be changes made and decisions that will be made,” Rupp said. “It will be different for us.”