The VG Donut’s customer looked familiar outside the Cardiff hangout.
His maple pastry and coffee had a sensation he recognized, too.
Both were warm to the touch.
The seat that Kevin Towers was sitting in outside of the donut shop might have been feeling a little warm too.
“We haven’t met the expectations and that’s why we’re all on the hot seat,’’ said Towers, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager.
Towers is well-known in these parts: he pitched for MiraCosta College, was a longtime Padres executive, and yep, once lived the Oceanside house made famous in “Top Gun.’’
“I love North County,’’ said Towers, the proud owner of a Leucadia home hugging the coastline between Stone Steps and Beacon’s. “It’s being able to live at the beach and just the vibe, the people, the restaurants.
“Being in this game and the stress you have, it’s nice to hang out in Leucadia for a couple of days and look at the ocean. It’s very therapeutic and good for the mind.’’
While Towers embraced the soothing rays when Arizona visited the Padres recently, he’s under fire in the Valley of the Sun. His fourth season of constructing the Diamondbacks’ roster has much venom pointed his way.
Losing 22 of the season’s first 30 games does that.
“It’s pretty rough over there; it’s way different than from here,’’ Towers said. “We haven’t had a losing season since I’ve been there and they are calling for your head. The expectations are very, very high.’’
So is Towers’ payroll, and that’s something that isn’t familiar.
As the Padres general manager from 1996-2009, Towers was asked to do more with less. He advanced to the 1998 World Series, won four NL West titles, and had a few seasons that if he was an angler, he’d throw back.
But he built his reputation as a keen talent evaluator. While being an astute dumpster diver with the Padres’ limited funds.
With the Diamondbacks, his payroll tickles triple digits. And it’s not easy for managing partner Ken Kendrick to digest that the $115 million Towers spent hasn’t produced.
“He’s a type of guy that is going to provide you the resources to be successful,’’ Towers said. “But if you don’t get it done, there is going to be hell to pay.
“It’s different than what we were used to here; we never had those resources. But Ken has been incredibly gracious to me and I feel bad we got off to such a horrible start.’’
Arizona’s not rising for many reasons. Among them are injuries to starter Patrick Corbin, reliever David Hernandez and slugger Mark Trumbo.
But all teams have ailments and slumps. That the Diamondbacks were hit before May is unsettling to their brass, fans and Arizona’s media.
“The baseball season is 162 games long and everybody is going to have a bad streak,’’ Towers said. “Sometimes it’s in April, sometimes it’s in July or September. But it is probably magnified more in April. But actually that is the time to have it because you have a chance to get better as the season goes along.’’
Towers longs to be on board when, and if, the worm turns. But he’s a realist; ditto his superiors, Kendrick, and club President Derrick Hall.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen,’’ the forthright Towers said. “I have good enough relations with both guys but they are pretty candid. It’s ‘Hey, K.T., at some point if it keeps going this way, we got to do something.’
“I get it.’’
Maybe the Diamondbacks get it in gear instead of a getting bogged down wrestling the Padres for the cellar. Neither squad has done squat, the difference being Arizona is spending some $30 million more.
That’s got the popular Towers receiving the same advice from his countless baseball friends: “Hang tough.’’
Towers’ goal is to avoid hanging 10.
“I don’t have a lot of time now to surf but I have my boards,’’ Towers said. “I guess if I get fired I’ll be out there all the time.’’
Here’s to those waves waiting until the offseason. We’ll tell VG’s to keep the maple bar and coffee on hold as well.
“My hope,’’ Towers said, “is that we can turn it around.’’
Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports