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Towers interview has executives talking

Frank comments on steroids by San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers earlier this week have opened baseball's front offices to more questions.

Atlanta Braves general manager John Schuerholz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for Wednesday's editions that he had confronted players he suspected of steroid use.

Towers talked to ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney about his suspicions and remorse that more couldn't have been done for Ken Caminiti.

Schuerholz told the Atlanta paper, without identifying who, that he had conversations about steroids with players.

"Yes, I was in that position, and yes I did," Schuerholz told the Journal-Constitution. "But I suffered the same frustrations that all other general managers did.

"If we had our suspicions, all we could do was ask the player, and if the player said no, we were done. We had nowhere to go. Our hands were tied behind our backs.

"We had no capability of testing a player to validate or verify whether a guy needed help to get off performance-enhancing drugs."

Among the more serious statements by Towers was his assertion that he didn't do anything, in part, because "the guy was putting up numbers."

On Tuesday, Padres president and CEO Dick Freeman said Towers' interview had "confused an already complex issue." Freeman, who was club president when Caminiti joined the tream via trade in 1994, defended Towers.

"Available evidence suggests that Caminiti's death resulted from a long-term pattern of substance abuse that Kevin and many others in the Padres organization and Major League Baseball did try to help him control, both during and after his playing career," Freeman said. "Ultimately and sadly, those efforts were to no avail.

Schuerholz also offered a defense for management.

"I want to make this clear: As general managers, we didn't turn our heads away from players who might be using steroids because it was a benefit to us," Schuerholz told the paper. "No, if we turned our heads, it was out of frustration because there was nothing we could do about it. Sadly, we didn't have the authority to test players or fix the problem."

Both Freeman and Schuerholz pointed to the new steroid testing program, which is scheduled to begin Thursday, as progress for the teams and players.