MLB

Towers returns to Petco Park as Diamondbacks' GM

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SAN DIEGO (AP)

Kevin Towers returned to Petco Park looking and sounding every bit the freewheeling executive who was fired by the San Diego Padres after the 2009 season.

Towers is in his first season as general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are a few games better in the standings than the struggling Padres. The teams opened a three-game series Friday night.

Towers spent more than two decades in the Padres' organization, the last 14 as GM before being fired by CEO Jeff Moorad. Moorad said he wanted a GM with a more strategic approach than Towers' shoot-from-the-hip manner. At the time, Moorad referred to Towers as a ''gunslinger.''

Never one for formality, Towers was wearing jeans and cowboy boots when he met with reporters in the Diamondbacks' dugout.

''That was strategically thought out today, to wear the cowboy boots,'' Towers cracked.

The Padres won four division titles and reached one World Series under Towers.

He's taken over a Diamondbacks team that finished last in the NL West last year at 65-97.

''I'm the same KT as I was when I was here. I haven't really changed much. I'm going to approach the job in Arizona as I did here in San Diego,'' Towers said. ''I'll give it everything I have and surround myself with good people to help me in the decision-making process and hopefully the outcome will be a positive one.''

Towers thinks the Diamondbacks-Padres rivalry might get a little more lively, given the number of people who've moved from one city to the other.

Moorad ran the Diamondbacks before buying the Padres before the 2009 season. Former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch both work in the Padres' front office. Byrnes and Hinch were both fired by the Diamondbacks on July 1.

Towers still remembers when Padres catcher Ben Davis bunted for a hit in May 2001 when Curt Schilling was five outs shy of a perfect game, angering the Diamondbacks.

''I think there's still a rivalry,'' Towers said. ''I'll never forget when Ben Davis bunted, trying to win a ballgame. A lot of individuals that are now here in San Diego were in Arizona, and there's a few of us now in Arizona who were in San Diego. I would imagine probably a little bit more of a rivalry will develop just because of the people that have traded places.''

Towers said there's no bitterness about his firing.

''It was a tremendous run. You know, 25 years with the organization, as a player, as a scout, as a pitching coach, as a scouting director, as a GM, I mean, I wore several hats here and enjoyed wearing all of them,'' he said. ''I worked with some great people here over the years, I had some great bosses and some great managers. I was blessed to have as long a run as I had and I enjoyed it while it lasted.

''I'm proud to be a Zonie out in Arizona and really like where I'm at now and the people I work with now, and hopefully we can have some success over there as we had here in the mid-90s and late-90s,'' Towers said.

Towers said he's followed the Padres since he was fired, and is still friends with manager Bud Black, bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds and bench coach Rick Renteria.

''They're good people. Although at 7 o'clock tonight, I want to beat them,'' Towers said.

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