Uncertainty Ahead for Shawn Bowman

Bowman Could Miss Significant Time

With the exception of a few bright spots, the 2005 season was one Mets third base prospect Shawn Bowman would like to forget. Bowman, the Mets' 12th round pick from the 2002 draft, struggled in his third season with the organization, batting only .221 in 87 games for Class-A St. Lucie. He hit 17 home runs and drove in 53 runs, but got off to a slow start by hitting below .200 through the first two months of the season. A back injury forced him to miss the final two months of the year.

The 20-year-old third baseman showed promise of breaking out of his slump toward the latter part of his season when he batted .310 in June with nine homers and 22 RBIs. Generally regarded as a plus defender, he committed a team-high 19 errors--five fewer than the 24 he was charged with a season ago at Class-A Capital City of the South Atlantic League, but with noticeably fewer chances.

Bowman's last game of 2005 was on July 20 against Vero Beach. He was 0-for-1 with a walk before leaving the game early. He never returned to the Mets' lineup.

The official injury? A fractured vertebrae.

"The way it came about was I was playing and my back just started hurting one day," explained Bowman. "I kept playing, but it kept hurting. Eventually it hurt too much to play. I started rehabbing and after about three weeks, it never got any better."

After that, it was off to New York to visit Mets doctors for a bone scan.

"It first started to bug me in mid-April," said Bowman. "The doctor said the injury could have occurred earlier, but that was about when it started hurting me and when I first began to feel pain."

Currently, Bowman is scheduled to rest another six weeks. If Mets doctors say he needs surgery, the expected recovery will be roughly 3-6 months. "It's called the ‘L5,' " Bowman said. "It's the last vertebrae on your back."

Born in British Columbia, Canada, Bowman was a career .236 hitter in two previous seasons with the Mets' farm system entering 2005. He spent 2003 between two of the Mets' short season affiliates--the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League and the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League. The following season with Capitol City, he batted .258 in 116 games during his first taste of full-season action.

This year, although Bowman isn't certain, he doesn't believe the back injury is what can be blamed for his rough start.

"I'd like to think so," Bowman said, "but truthfully I really don't. I'd like to have something to explain it, but no I don't think that was it. I'd say it was one or two things. First, maybe it was just the pressure I put on myself, wanting to do so much in every at-bat and every pitch."

Another reason was fatigue.

"I was down in Spring Training early this year in mid-January," Bowman said. "Unfortunately, by the time the season started, I was almost burnt out."

For now, Bowman remains uncertain about what 2006 holds in store. He hopes to be healthy in time for Spring Training and perhaps a start to the season at Double-A Binghamton. Making it to the Big Apple is also a goal, but one of a more long-term scope.

"I'm hopeful I get a chance to play at the major league level at some point," Bowman said. "And I hope it's with the Mets. If it's third base with them, that's great. But if it's left field for, say, the Reds, hey, that's great too."

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