"It was difficult," he said. "It was difficult because I'm not from St. Louis, but I've really grown to fall in love with this town and this organization. This is as good of a baseball town as there is, with the history and the tradition. You try to manage your career as a professional, but you can't help but become a fan, too. So that part is tough.
"But from a professional perspective, this is a really exciting opportunity. It is a step out of baseball operations, but it's a unique opportunity to step into like an 'AGM' type role, but instead of right-hand man to a GM, I'm going to [working with] a team president. And I'll get to work with him and his staff on a lot of issues and learn a whole other side of the business. I'm really excited about that there."
Abbamondi will work with club president Tom Garfinkel on a wide range of initiatives, including the Padres' attempt to get a new ballpark built in Escondido, Calif., for their Triple-A affiliate. The position is a newly created one in the San Diego hierarchy.
"John is an exceptional person and a great thinker with a diverse background," Garfinkel said in a statement issued by the Padres. "The combination of his understanding of baseball economics and his strategic leadership will help take our business development plans to a new level. We look forward to having him join our executive team."
While his path is taking a turn, Abbamondi emphasized that he's not ruling out coming back to the baseball side of things. Instead, he's seizing a chance to broaden his skill set -- one that was already quite wide-ranging.
"I recognize that it's a nontraditional career path," he said. "But my whole career has been non-traditional. I'm not too worried about that. I don't think it's so much closing a door as opening a different door."
He made it clear that it was less the change in roles than the change in organization that was the toughest leap to take.
"I'm extremely grateful to the DeWitt family and to John Mozeliak," Abbamondi said. "They gave me a great opportunity to come here and learn and help build this club. I'll always be grateful for my time here. It's been incredible."
The Cardinals hired Abbamondi late in 2007 to take over for John Mozeliak after Mozeliak was promoted from assistant GM to the post of general manager. He came to St. Louis after working in the Commissioner's Office in New York.
"We've known about the possibility for a little while," Mozeliak said Wednesday. "But he's going to be missed. He did a very good job for us. I'm excited for him. I think he's really looking forward to this opportunity. Even though he's jumping over to the business side, he's going to keep his options open to maybe one day get back to the baseball side."
Mozeliak said that he has thought some about who might replace Abbamondi, but that he did not anticipate making a hire imminently. He did not rule out either an in-house promotion or a hire from outside the organization, and said he hoped to have a resolution to the matter sometime in January.
Abbamondi's departure is just the latest move in what has been a year filled with transition for the St. Louis front office. During the summer, John Vuch was promoted to scouting director as Jeff Luhnow's responsibilities were cut back somewhat. Then Carroll was hired by the Braves shortly before the Winter Meetings, and now Abbamondi is heading west.
"I think we're pretty deep here," Mozeliak said. "We have a lot of talented people that work here. ... Absolutely they're two key guys and it will definitely be a loss, but I also think that the quality of people we have here and the potential is something to be excited about."