Relaxed Towers ready to get back to work
Former Padres general manager looking for job with new team
SAN DIEGO -- You can't see the ocean from the Olde City Grille here in Pacific Beach, Calif. You can't even smell it, though that has more to do with the scrumptious smell of cheese steaks radiating from the kitchen out the open front door.
Make no mistake, though, you're essentially at the beach. It's four blocks away, though it might as well be around the corner, something that becomes perfectly clear by the, well, outerwear of those coming from or heading to the beach.
Kevin Towers, ousted as general manager of the Padres in the final week of the regular season, isn't one of these people, though you wouldn't know it by the way he rolls up to the restaurant on a bike, wearing shorts, sunglasses, flips-flops and, from the looks of it, not a care in the world.
Since his dismissal, Towers has been laying low here in Pacific Beach, living in a house on the water with his wife. Laying low, but Towers certainly hasn't been in hiding.
In the past two months alone, Towers has taken his wife to Costa Rica (yes, he did a zipline tour), watched U2 rock the Rose Bowl and talked his body into doing Pilates. He walks his three English Bulldogs (Sputnik, Fiona and Arlow) daily without fail and isn't averse to climbing atop a surfboard when the mood strikes him.
When Towers was dismissed by the Padres, he said he wanted to take some time to "breathe" for the first time in a while. The air has never tasted so good.
"It's been really nice," Towers said, sitting back in a chair and taking in the sights and sounds of Garnet St. outside the restaurant. "It's nice to foster the marriage once again. You don't really have a lot of time in this job to spend with family.
"I've got chores now. I've been almost as busy these last few months as I was sitting behind a desk talking to agents and the media. I'm kind of doing things I have always wanted to do, things I've missed for probably 15-20 years, things that are important."
This is not to say that Towers, 48, has completely divorced himself from baseball. No, that was never going to happen. On the day that he was dismissed, Towers said that he wanted to be a general manager again.
Now, he said, is the time to get back to work.
"I want to work. These two or three months have been nice to kick back. But if you have baseball in your blood, you can't sit back and watch," he said.
This is why Towers will be paying his own way Sunday to Indianapolis for the Winter Meetings. He's scheduled to meet with four teams there -- the Mets, Yankees, Mariners and Red Sox -- about potential jobs, such as advance scout or a special assignment scout.
Towers counts Yankees general manager Brian Cashman as a good friend and that could be a fit. Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik gave Towers a job way back when both were in Pittsburgh. Towers also has very strong ties to Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and CEO and president Larry Lucchino from when both were in San Diego.
There will be opportunities for him, that's not an issue. Towers has been hailed by peers as a masterful trader over the years -- you think the Rangers are still smarting over letting Adrian Gonzalez go? -- as well as one who has the ability to do a lot with a little.
Towers said he would like to work with an American League team to essentially see how the other half lives, how the roster construction is different and to learn a new league to give him a better understanding in case he gets the chance to be a general manager again. But he's very clear when it comes to his primary criteria.
"The most important thing is who you're going to work with. I want to align myself with the right team and the right person, a good organization," Towers said. "Whatever a GM wants me to do ... be his eyes and ears, a special assignment guy, a trouble-shooter, I'm ready to work.
"In this game, it's easy to get out of sight, out of mind. I want to be with a ballclub. And I want to wake up and check the box scores and the standings. What drives me, motivates me, what gets the blood flowing is when you're involved."
As for his parting with the Padres following 14 years as a general manager, Towers isn't openly bitter. He's more appreciative of the opportunity he had and thankful for all the relationships he forged, from his assistant general manager Fred Uhlman Jr. to manager Bud Black to trainer Todd Hutcheson, who has been around since Towers' playing days.
"I've got a lot of friends over there. You spend 25 years there ... I'm still a Padre. I'm still getting a check from the Padres," Towers said. "I still follow what they're doing. I wish [new GM] Jed [Hoyer] success. San Diego will always be my home."
Towers knows that if he gets the opportunity to be a general manager again -- and those who know him best and those in baseball believe that will happen sooner than later -- he likely won't be able to spend as much time here in San Diego.
That probably means putting the bike away and trading sunglasses for his Blackberry, a device he's gladly neglected these past two months.
Duty calls. He's ready to answer.
"I kind of looked at this as a chance for two or three months to get in as much as I can ... put together a bucket list of things I've always wanted to do," Towers said. "I know that this opportunity might not ever happen again for me."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.