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Versatile Petit 'grateful' for opportunity with A's

Righty willing to start or come out of bullpen, a rare mentality in big leagues
MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It's been almost seven years, but Yusmeiro Petit can still recall the time he lost his feel for pitching and found himself in Mexico looking for answers.

The right-hander had just been released by the Mariners and playing for the Guerreros de Oaxaca was his only real option. It was 2011 and he had not pitched in the big leagues in almost two seasons.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It's been almost seven years, but Yusmeiro Petit can still recall the time he lost his feel for pitching and found himself in Mexico looking for answers.

The right-hander had just been released by the Mariners and playing for the Guerreros de Oaxaca was his only real option. It was 2011 and he had not pitched in the big leagues in almost two seasons.

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"You play in Mexico and you pitch where they want you to pitch and when they need to pitch, and that's just how it is," Petit, 33, said. "I went to Mexico as a starter and came back a pitcher thinking I could do it all. My mentality changed, and that changed everything."

The A's are counting on Petit to help solidify the staff by pitching out of the bullpen and possibly as an emergency starter. On Tuesday, Petit faced four batters against the Indians. He gave up a solo home run to Jason Kipnis and struck out Edwin Encarnacion to end the third.

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"Very rarely do you get a guy that says, 'Let me know when you need me to pitch,'" said A's manager Bob Melvin, who managed Petit with the D-backs. "Guys typically like to know what their role is and prepare for that particular role, and that's not the case with him. Last year, he even pitched the seventh and eighth inning for the Angels. He can literally do any role."

Petit signed with the Mets in 2001 and sped through their Minor League system as a starter. He made his big league debut with the Marlins at age 21 in 2006 and pitched in 15 games that season. In retrospect, he thinks he was rushed, and he could have used more seasoning in the Minor Leagues.

"There was a lot of ups and downs, but I never gave up," Petit said. "I think what has helped me the most has been my ability to stay healthy and learning that teams need pitchers to do multiple things. That took time for me to understand that."

Petit was traded to the D-backs in 2007 and pitched in long relief in Arizona with an occasional spot start during his three seasons there. He was eventually claimed off waivers by the Mariners in 2009 and released the next year. He signed with the Mariners again in 2011 and was released again during the first month of the season. That's when Mexico came calling.

Video: LAA@CWS: Petit fans Saladino to escape a jam

"Mexico gave me the opportunity and I am grateful, but I knew I had to get out of there and pitch in the Major Leagues again," Petit said. "I got my confidence back."

That's an understatement.

The right-hander signed with the Giants before the 2012 season, pitched in various roles during his four seasons in San Francisco and was part of two World Series championship teams. He signed with the Nationals in 2016. He pitched for the Angels last season and signed with the A's in December.

"I'm very happy to be here and grateful to still be at this level," Petit said. "I'm going to keep the same role I have always had and that's pitch when they need me. I'm going to keep working hard and doing my job in whatever they ask because I know what it's like to not have a job."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Oakland Athletics, Yusmeiro Petit