NEW YORK (AP) – Larry Bowa is ready to be George Steinbrenner’s third-base coach, and all that entails.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as tough as everyone thinks it’s going to be as far as the atmosphere,” Bowa said Tuesday after the New York Yankees finalized his contract to join their coaching staff.

“I managed in Philadelphia for four years. The whole East Coast, obviously, the atmosphere is a lot different than out West or even in Milwaukee, Chicago or any of those cities,” Bowa said. “There’s going to be times, obviously, where you get some people thrown out at home plate. You’re going to make decisions that maybe don’t go your way, and that’s just the way baseball is.”

Bowa is the first addition to manager Joe Torre’s coaching staff, which lost pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre (who retired) and bench coach Joe Girardi (who became manager of the Florida Marlins). Luis Sojo, who coached third base last season, is expected to be offered another job by the Yankees.

Steinbrenner is known for sniping at his coaches. After the season, Stottlemyre said he decided to resign due to public criticism from the owner early last season.

“I’m looking forward to meeting Mr. Steinbrenner,” Bowa said. “I know he takes a lot of heat – they say he buys pennants and that – but I like guys who like to win, and he likes to win. “

Steinbrenner, Yankees president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman and many of the team’s top officials began the team’s annual organizational meetings Tuesday in Manhattan. In recent years, the meeting had been held at the team’s spring training camp in Tampa, Fla.

Bowa was a five-time All-Star as a player and managed San Diego (1987-88) and Philadelphia (2001-4). He was a third-base coach for the Phillies (1988-96), the Angels (1997-99) and Seattle (2000).

Bowa said he is not a candidate to succeed Torre, who said he plans to retire when his contract expires after the 2007 season.

“No, not at all,” Bowa said. “Whoever replaces Joe Torre has got their hands filled. He’s probably been as good a manager as there’s ever been in baseball for a long, long time. My thoughts right now are coaching third base for the Yankees in 2006.”

AP-ES-11-01-05 1917EST


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