Petit proving to be a nice fit with Angels

May 22nd, 2016

ANAHEIM -- Angels shortstop Gregorio Petit is used to waiting.

He broke through for his first pair of Major League stints in 2008 and 2009 with Oakland, but then went five years before he could call himself a Big Leaguer once again. After brief stints in the big leagues with the Astros in 2014 and Yankees in 2015, he took on the latest step in his career by signing a Minor League deal with the Angels.

Petit got off to a hot start with Triple-A Salt Lake this season, hitting .327 through his first 17 games. He did what he says he's always done -- plugging away in the Minors, trying not to think about whether or not he will get the call back up.

In the middle of the night on May 13, the call came. The only thing was, he wasn't awake to answer.

"I was sleeping and when I looked at my phone and I had so many missed phone calls," Petit said. "I called the manager in Triple-A and he told me I was coming here [Anaheim], to start packing and get my gloves and get to the airport, then Seattle."

The 31-year-old was going back to the big leagues, and quickly found himself inserted into the starting lineup against the Mariners. The Angels needed him when they lost starting shortstop Andrelton Simmons due to a left wrist injury. Then, they lost his backup, Cliff Pennington, to a left hamstring strain. The only other shortstop on the roster was Brendan Ryan, who had been acquired in a trade just days earlier.

Petit's defense has shone in his first few games with the Angels, whether it be a pair of diving plays near the bag against the Dodgers or a strong jump throw from the hole Friday against the Orioles. It's a play he said has become commonplace in the Majors, adopted from Derek Jeter as well as fellow Venezuelan Omar Vizquel.

"You see Elvis [Andrus] do it a lot, [Omar] Vizquel did it a lot, [Brandon] Crawford does it a lot," Petit said. "I grew up watching Omar Vizquel playing. It's become natural among shortstops to make those kinds of plays."

Petit has begun to make an impact at the plate. He had three hits and scored a run in a 3-1 loss to the Orioles on Saturday. On Friday, he had an RBI single in the sixth inning to tie the game, a game the Orioles went on to win, 9-4.

"It just happened," Petit said. "I got fooled by the pitch and I just reacted. I let go of the bat."

Manager Mike Scioscia has taken notice of the newcomer's progress.

"He's really a smart player and he's versatile," Scioscia said this week. "He's shown his range, his arm, and he's got some big hits for us at the plate. As it turns out, he's a really important guy that we've brought in with all the guys we've had go down."