Larry Bowa, contending he was not given enough time to rebuild a young team beset by injuries, was fired Saturday as manager of the San Diego Padres and replaced by Jack McKeon, the club's vice president of baseball operations.

"I don't think I was given a fair opportunity to turn around a team in a year and 40 games," said Bowa, who made his major league managerial debut with the Padres last season. "I know I can manage a major league team.""It was a tough decision, but a change was necessary," Padres president Chub Feeney said.

Bowa said he was called in his hotel room by Feeney Saturday and told of the change - about one hour after learning of his dismissal from a sports writer.

In 1987, the Padres were 65-97, finishing in last place in the National League West, 25 games behind division champion San Francisco. This season, they were 16-30 under Bowa, in fifth place, only a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Braves.

McKeon said he agreed to take the job only for the remainder of this season.

"At the end of the season, I go back to being GM only," McKeon said.

"They enlisted me. I didn't ask them. I never solicited the job."

Bowa, a former major league infielder, was the second National League manager fired in the past week and the third major league manager released this season. Atlanta's Chuck Tanner was dismissed last Sunday, after the Braves defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4.

Like Tanner, Bowa was fired after a victory; the Padres defeated the New York Mets 2-0 Friday night in the opener of a weekend series.

The other manager fired this year was Cal Ripken Sr. of the Baltimore Orioles.

"If you're fired by a Frank Cashen or Joe McIlvaine, you get worried. They're pretty knowledgeable baseball people," Bowa said, referring to the general manager and vice president of baseball operations, respectively, of the Mets. "But if you're fired by these people you don't worry about it."

Specifically, he was referring to Feeney.

"I knew last year when Feeney came in, I wasn't going to be here long," Bowa said. "Larry Bowa is not a Chub Feeney man.

"I think that when Chub Feeney took over last year, he wanted to make a change. But he prolonged it. I guess, he thought now was the right time."

Bowa blamed the Padres poor showing on their lack of experience and injuries this season.