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Bowa criticizes his suspension

Times Staff Writer

Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa said the three-game suspension he was handed by the commissioner’s office Wednesday was “more ludicrous” than the new rule that he protested by screaming in the face of umpire crew chief Ed Montague to get himself thrown out of the previous night’s game.

The sixth-inning explosion, during which Montague said Bowa hit him with the tip of his helmet and shoved Manager Joe Torre into him, also resulted in Bowa’s being fined an undisclosed amount. The point of contention was a new rule that forbids base coaches to cross the lines of their designated boxes toward home plate or the field until batted balls pass them -- a rule Bowa said was concocted by “people in New York that wear the coats and ties and don’t get on the field” and prevents him from performing his duties properly.

“For getting kicked out of the game and to get a three-game suspension, that’s a joke,” Bowa said. “It’s totally uncalled for. You got guys that tested positive for steroids and they admitted they took them. No suspensions. I get kicked out of a game and get three games plus fined? There’s no justice.”

Montague, who called Bowa’s ejection “stupid,” disagreed.

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“I think he got off,” Montague said, citing the physical contact Bowa made with him.

Torre continued to back Bowa, saying that he wouldn’t ask him to alter his behavior and that he wasn’t concerned about the impression the outburst left on the team’s young players.

“To me, it’s not all bad when you realize how important something is to somebody,” Torre said. “That’s how we should all play this game, with a sense of urgency.”

Bowa decried his punishment as part of a personal witch hunt by Bob Watson, baseball’s vice president of on-field operations.

“He’s got an agenda against me for some reason, and it goes back to when I first started managing and coaching,” he said. “I don’t know what it is.”

Watson could not be reached for comment. Bowa said he couldn’t reach Watson, either, claiming he left him a voice message that wasn’t returned.

“He doesn’t want to watch where I was as far as how close I was to the box,” Bowa said. “He doesn’t want to watch the film of how Ed came at me. He doesn’t want to watch any of that. . . . If Bob Watson was a man, I think he’d call me on that one.”

Bowa complained that he was never told to remain in the box during spring training or on opening day, when Montague was behind home plate. But a spokesman for the commissioner’s office said that its staff communicated the new rules in writing and in person to the front offices and field staffs of every club, and Montague said the reason he didn’t say anything to Bowa on Monday was because he never saw him out of the box.

As Bowa was about to leave a group of reporters in the dugout, he was asked whether he would move to the home-plate side of the box the next time he was stationed there with a runner on second.

“We’ll see,” he said. “Stay tuned.”

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Wes Helms moved a step closer to becoming available to fill the Dodgers’ vacancy at third base, as he was designated for assignment by the Philadelphia Phillies. Helms is expected to be released in 10 days. . . . Jason Schmidt, who is throwing off a mound every three days, had a 40-pitch bullpen session. Torre said he hoped Schmidt could throw 50 pitches Saturday or Sunday.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com


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