As long as Phillies stay healthy, Larry Bowa is confident they’ll go to playoffs

Dave Uram
July 13, 2020 - 11:46 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — If Major League Baseball can play its intended 60-game, coronavirus-shortened schedule, and the Phillies keep guys off the injured list, Phillies icon Larry Bowa says they should be able to play postseason baseball for the first time since 2011. 

Bowa — a current senior adviser for the team, who is never shy to publicly share his thoughts — said he likes what he sees on the current Phils roster. 

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“I thought we were playing exceptionally well down there,” he said of spring training. “I really like the makeup of our team. I like the progress we were making. I liked our pitching — and then, of course, the virus hit and we all had to go our separate ways. 

“But I really like it, and I would be shocked — barring that we keep everybody healthy and this thing plays out — if we didn’t get in the playoffs. I would be shocked.”

Bowa said successful teams will be the ones with strong bullpens, and he believes the Phils have one, despite losing Seranthony Dominguez to an elbow injury. He’s also a fan of new manager Joe Girardi and the deep lineup he’ll be working with — especially now that the designated hitter is in the National League. 

As much as the legendary former shortstop thinks highly of the Phillies 2020 roster, he’s also wary about the safety risks COVID-19 brings to this season.

“Obviously I’m happy it’s coming back, but I think the main concern is the health of everybody that’s gonna play,” he said. “I see a lot of names dropping out — which I fully agree, if that’s what they feel, and their families are first.”

No Phillies players have opted out because of the safety risk. 

Other players across MLB have tested positive for the virus — including some Phillies. With instances of testing issues, some teams have been forced to shut down camp workouts. The Phillies have not had to do so, but centerfielder Adam Haseley had to wait to arrive because of an issue with one of his tests. 

On Friday, MLB announced that 83 of its 11,149 intake and monitoring testing samples — 0.7% — came back positive, since intake screening started on June 27. The league, and the Phillies, have shown they’re able to handle instances of positive cases here and there. But there’s always the risk of a larger spread, which is what MLB — and all sports leagues — are trying to prevent as they attempt to resume.

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Phillies second baseman Scott Kingery recently learned the difficulty of returning to play after contracting the virus.

“The virus can stay in your body for a lot longer than we think, so there’s a bunch of stuff you gotta go through before you can get back on the field,” he said. “It’s been about a month for me … and that’s gonna be half the season if you get it during the season.”

“If this does start up and then something happens,” Bowa thought, “I’m wondering how Major League Baseball’s gonna respond to that, because you might have some teams playing basically Double-A and Triple-A players.”

As far as safety protocols go, Girardi likes what he sees.

“In the clubhouse, we ask them to wear their mask around. On the field, it’s their choice. When they go up to the food room, we ask them to have their mask on,” he said. “We don’t ask them to eat with their mask on because that would be a little difficult, but I think they’ve done a good job social distancing.”

If the pandemic happened when he was a Phillie, Bowa admitted he would have second thoughts about playing.

“Would you feel safe enough if you were playing in the middle of a pandemic? If my daughter — she’s grown up now, but if she was young, I would not. I would probably say I have second thoughts about doing this,” he said.

In addition to safety concerns, Bowa believes a 60-game season — significantly shorter than the usual 162 — should have an asterisk next to it. 

The defending World Champion Washington Nationals were 27-33 after 60 games last season, and 19-31 after 50. A team that isn’t expected to do well in 2020 could become hot in just 60 games and make the playoffs — a team that also probably wouldn’t have much of a chance during the traditional six-month-long, nightly baseball season.