SAN DIEGO -- With exactly one month until the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, D-backs scouts are hard at work preparing, as the organization has the Nos. 3 and 7 overall picks.
"There's not a lot of time left," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said. "I know our scouts are bouncing all over the country."
Towers has done his fair share of traveling as well. He has seen Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, UCLA pitchers Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, Kansas prep slugger Bubba Starling and Oklahoma prep right-hander Dylan Bundy.
Towers plans on seeing University of Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen during the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. In addition, he said there were "one or two" more prospects he may get a look at here while the team is on its current road trip.
While vice president of scouting and player development Jerry Dipoto and scouting director Ray Montgomery will make the final call on the picks, Towers wanted to get a look at the candidates for Nos. 3 and 7.
"Ray and Jerry and our scouts have done a tremendous job," Towers said. "This is a good year to be picking three and seven."
Towers returns to PETCO as opposing GM
SAN DIEGO -- Kevin Towers made his first trip to PETCO Park as an opposing team's general manager on Friday.
After 14 years as Padres GM and 25 years in the San Diego organization, Towers was dismissed after the 2009 season. He spent last year as a special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman before being hired in Arizona last September.
"This is just like any other series for me," said Towers, who still owns a home nearby. "I turned the page over two years ago when I left. The nice thing is I'll get to sleep in my own bed and my wife and bulldogs are here."
While what happens on the field might be like an ordinary series for Towers, what will be special is getting the chance to renew old acquaintances.
"Not just front-office guys, but game-day relations staff, the elevator operators, security guards, it will be good to see them," Towers said. "They treated me great when I was here. Really the whole city treated me great. I've got a lot of friends here, but come [game time] they're the enemy."
Towers said he looks back with fondness on his time in San Diego. The Padres finished the 2009 season strong and finished one game out of the postseason in 2010.
"When I left the organization they were in good shape," Towers said. "It was a team on the verge of being good, no bad contracts. If you could script an ending it would be hard to write a better one."
This is not Towers' first time at PETCO since his dismissal. While with the Yankees, he attended a couple of games in a scouting capacity.
Gibson sticking with Johnson at No. 2 spot
SAN DIEGO -- Despite Kelly Johnson's season-long slump, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he does not plan on dropping the second baseman in the order.
In his 27 starts this year, Johnson has hit leadoff four times, second 22 times and third once.
"He's my No. 2 hitter right now," Gibson said. "He's been good for us in the past and I do think that it's important to stick with him."
Johnson hit .284 with 26 homers and 71 RBIs a season ago, but he entered Friday's game hitting .175 and had two hits in his last 18 at-bats.
With that in mind, Gibson was asked if it wouldn't make more sense to hit Johnson lower in the order.
"You can pick any other spot in the order and it's bound to find you," Gibson said, referring to a crucial situation. "If you're struggling, it's going to find you."
True, but it was pointed out to Gibson that the No. 2 hitter in the order gets more at-bats typically than, say, a seventh or eighth hitter.
"You can dice it any way you want to for your convenience, whatever you want to write," Gibson said. "I know he's pressing a bit. There's only one way to get out of it. You can either run from it or you can keep battling and battling."
And for now, at least, it appears that battle will take place from the No. 2 spot in the lineup.