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Hunsicker on leaving for Dodgers: Rays were great, it was time for another challenge

UPDATE, 6:56: Hunsicker said the seven years he spent with the Rays were among most special of his career, that he will "forever cherish this time,'' and he felt he accomplished what he set out to do, which was help get them headed in right direction. "It was a great run,'' he said.

So why leave? "I felt, more than anything, that it was time to look for another challenge.''

He said the Dodgers came to him within the last 10 days, that he goes way back with Dodgers president Stan Kasten, and that the chance to work with him, Colletti and the "new enthusiastic" ownership group to "help restore the Dodgers to the pre-eminent organization in baseball" was appealing.

Hunsicker said when he came to the Rays he expected to stay only three years, and that turned into five and then seven. He praised Friedman and principal owner Stu Sternberg for the unique culture and environment they created.

"I have nothing but admiraton and respect for them,'' he said.

UPDATE, 6:27 p.m.: Here is a statement from Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman on Hunsicker:
"I have worked side by side with Gerry for the past seven years, and I am extremely grateful for all he has done for me and the Rays organization. He has been instrumental in the growth and development of our department, and I am proud of the successes we have enjoyed together. We will miss his contributions and presence, and we wish him well in his new role in Los Angeles."

BREAKING: Senior VP Gerry Hunsicker, who had been with the Rays since November 2005, left to take a position with the Dodgers.

Hunsicker, former GM of the Astros, will be senior advisor, baseball operations and, according to the Dodgers, lend his expertise to international scouting and development, pro scouting and minor league development.

"Gerry brings a wealth of senior level experience and knowledge that will assist baseball operations at all levels," Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said.

Here is the Dodgers release on the hire:

The Los Angeles Dodgers today hired Gerry Hunsicker as Senior Advisor, Baseball Operations. Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti made the announcement.

"Gerry brings a wealth of senior level experience and knowledge that will assist baseball operations at all levels," said Colletti.

Hunsicker will assist Colletti and President and CEO Stan Kasten with the Dodgers' big league club while also lending his expertise to international scouting and development, pro scouting and minor league development. The 2013 season will be the Houston resident's 35th in Major League Baseball.

Hunsicker previously served as the Tampa Bay Ray's Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations, a position he held since November 2005. Hunsicker was part of principal owner Stuart Sternberg's new management group and was a key figure in reshaping their baseball operations into the successful department it is today. With the Rays, Hunsicker was instrumental in helping to create significant presence in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Brazil. In 2009, he also oversaw the Rays expanded efforts in Asia and Europe.

Hunsicker began his career in baseball in 1978 and his experience spans four decades, including nine seasons as Astros General Manager from 1996-2004. Under Hunsicker, Houston posted the sixth-best winning percentage in the Majors during that period (.544, 793-665), set a franchise record with 102 wins in 1998 and reached the postseason five times in nine seasons. Hunsicker was named Sporting News Executive of the Year in 1998 and the core he assembled of Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Brad Ausmus, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens won a National League title before falling to the White Sox in the 2005 Fall Classic. He also spent seven seasons in the New York Mets organization as Director of Minor League Operations (1989-90), Director of Baseball Operations (1991) and Assistant Vice President of Baseball Operations (1992-95).

The Collegeville, PA, native received his bachelor's degree from St. Joseph's University, where he played baseball and was named to the All-Mid-Atlantic Conference team. He holds an M.S. in management from Florida International University and also served as the school's Assistant Athletic Director and Assistant Baseball Coach from 1975-78. Hunsicker has been honored with inductions into the St. Joseph's Athletic Hall of Fame and the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame and also received the Torch Award of FIU, which recognizes distinguished alumni from the university.