Devil Rays hire Hunsicker as No. 2 to Friedman

Updated: November 4, 2005, 1:05 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays hired Gerry Hunsicker as their No. 2 baseball man on Thursday, giving the team a proven front office executive to work with the club's young, inexperienced head of baseball operations.

Hunsicker, 55, spent nine seasons in Houston as the Astros' general manager, helping assemble the team that went to the National League championship series in 2004 and the World Series this year.

With Tampa Bay, he'll be responsible for helping 28-year-old Andrew Friedman turn around a franchise that's never won more than 70 games in a season and finished last in seven of its eight seasons.

"I'm here to support what Andrew wants to do," Hunsicker said, emphasizing that he has no problem with settling into a No. 2 role after running the show from 1996 to 2004 in Houston, which went 701-595 and made the playoffs five times while he was GM.

Hunsicker takes on the title of senior vice president of baseball operations. Andrew Friedman was promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations after serving as director of baseball development for the past two years.

Friedman and 29-year-old team president Matt Silverman have assumed larger roles in the organization since new principal owner Stuart Sternberg took over control of the team last month from former managing general partner Vincent Naimoli.

The young executives have been conducting the search for a new manager, interviewing 10 different candidates before paring the list to three finalists: former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine, Los Angeles Angels bench coach Joe Maddon and incumbent Devil Rays bench coach John McLaren.

A second round of interviews are planned during next week's general managers meeting in Indian Wells, Calif., and Hunsicker will assist Friedman is making a decision on Lou Piniella's successor in the next two weeks.

"I'm rejuvenated and re-energized," Hunsicker said, adding that he been looking for the right opportunity to return to baseball almost since the day he stepped down as Houston's GM.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press