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Notes: Bowa disappointed
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09/26/2003  8:44 PM ET 
Notes: Bowa disappointed
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PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Larry Bowa evaluated the Phillies 2003 season on Friday, giving the campaign mixed reviews.

Bowa was clearly upset his team couldn't reach the postseason, but he also noted several positives from the past year.

"I don't think we underachieved," Bowa said. "[But] I'm disappointed we didn't make the playoffs."

When asked if he thought he got as much as possible from his team this season, Bowa responded: "We squeezed every ounce out of it."

One of the major positives he takes from the season is the emergence of Marlon Byrd.

The rookie center fielder is hitting .300 with 84 runs scored, seven home runs and 45 RBIs heading into Friday's game against the Braves.

After a slow start, Byrd caught fire at the plate. He was hitting .193 through June, but upped his average to .288 by the All-Star break. A move from eighth to first in the batting order didn't slow down the former Georgia Tech running back. Since moving to the leadoff spot on July 8, Byrd has hit .315 with 61 runs scored.

Byrd ranks second among National League rookies in hits (145), doubles (28), walks (43) and runs.

One of the major negatives of 2003 was the performance of Pat Burrell. Coming off 37 homers, 116 RBIs and .282 average a year ago, Burrell struggled all season. He has collected 21 homers, 64 RBIs and a paltry .208 average.

"I just don't think he ever got comfortable," Bowa said of his left fielder's hitting woes. "I don't think he had confidence all year."

But Bowa doesn't think Burrell's problems are long-term.

"I feel he's too good of an athlete -- too good of a hitter -- to do this again," Bowa said.

The skipper was also somewhat disappointed in his pitching down the stretch.

"I was talking with [pitching coach] Joe [Kerrigan] and we aren't very happy the way we finished up," Bowa said of his pitching staff. "Maybe it was more of a mental wearing down than a physical one."

The manager also critiqued his own performance this season.

"I don't think you can ever say you did all you can when you don't reach your goal," Bowa said. "I'll take my share of the blame."

While the manager shouldered some of this year's culpability, don't look for a different approach from Bowa any time soon. He said his intensity is a product of a desire to win.

"If that's bad, then that's the way it is," Bowa said. "I'm not changing my attitude about winning. That's what I was about as a player, that's what I was about as a coach, and that's what I'm about as a manager."

Although Bowa's not changing, he knows at least some aspects of his team will be different next season. Some of those changes most likely will come in the bullpen.

One reliever's future remains a question. Dan Plesac was baited out of retirement last offseason for one final year -- and what a year it was. The 41-year-old left-hander went 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in 33 innings. He struck out 36, while walking 11 this year. Now, Bowa isn't sure if this was the last go-round for Plesac.

"It's hard [to walk away from the game], especially if you're still getting people out," the skipper said.

Changes are expected in the pen, but the starting lineup is projected to remain the same in 2004.

Bowa said he will be looking for some different production from one of those regulars.

"Ideally, we'd like Jimmy [Rollins] to hit near the top [of the order] and move Polanco down to drive in some runs," Bowa said. "Jimmy's got to do some things. He's got to hit and run, he's got to bunt."

Bowa is optimistic yet tempered regarding his expectations for next season.

"If David Bell is healthy, and we need Pat to be Pat, then we're set."

But he also hopes this season doesn't give his players any false sense of security.

"Some people think, we came close last year, now it's a foregone conclusion [the team will make the playoffs]," Bowa said. "It doesn't work that way."

Philling in: Bowa said Placido Polanco, who missed sometime earlier in September with a deep thigh bruise, will probably not play again this year. ... Bell, who Bowa said definitely won't play again, left the team Friday due to a death in his family. He is expected to rejoin the club on Sunday. Bell had returned from a back injury to see limited action in Florida.

Mike Gennaria is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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