Prospect Q&A: Gregorio Petit, IF

Gregorio Petit spent time at shortstop, second base and even played a few games at third base for the Kane County Cougars last season. Paul Rathert caught up with the infielder at the Stockton Ports Pre-Season Banquet at the Waterloo in Stockton recently and the native of Venezuela was willing to spend a few moments talking about last season, the WBC, baseball in South America and even talked about one of his idols growing up.

Gregorio Petit (pronounced Pe-teet) has only been in America since 2003, but he speaks English with ease. Petit hit .289 with nine homers for Kane County last season, while flashing a solid glove. He and 2005 top pick Cliff Pennington make up the middle infield of the Ports to begin the season.

Oakland Clubhouse: What did you think of the WBC?

Gregorio Petit: I think it was a very good experience for the Venezuelan players. Some of the best Venezuelan players were there and some of the best players from the world were there, so I think it was pretty nice and I hope one day to play in it.

OC: So you would be willing to play for team Venezuela? (Petit played for the Venezuelan and Caribbean League champions Caracas Leones.)

GP: Yes, definitely.

OC: You and Javier Herrera have both come up through the A's system from the Dominican Summer League together and, with the exception of Herrera's time in Sacramento last year, have played together at every level. Are the two of you close?

GP: Yes, we're pretty close. We actually had the same tryout and we both got signed at the same time together.

OC: Do you help push each other to succeed?

GP: Yeah, a lot. More with advice about different things we may de doing right or wrong on the field. We are pretty good teammates and friends.

OC: How does it help you to have a fellow Venezuelan with you when adjusting to American baseball?

GP: I think it's really good for me. I know how he plays and he knows how I play. He knows if I'm not doing something the way I normally do, he'll tell me.

OC: What is the Dominican League like?

GP: It's very hard, especially for less-experienced professional players. For me, it was my first year. There's lots of talent, but without some of those players, I might not be here right now.

OC: How is a player like Omar Vizquel looked up to in Venezuela? (Petit's eyes light up and he gets a huge smile across his face at the mention of Vizquel's name.)

GP: Let me tell you this: the first time I got to see Omar play live was last week in San Francisco. They sent me to the big league camp for one day and we played against the Giants and I got to see him play. I said to myself, "Wow." This guy to me is the best shortstop in the big leagues. He's incredible. He's 37 years old and he still plays like he's 20. You have to follow his example to move up.

OC: Are there any other players that are national heroes in Venezuela, guys like Johan Santana?

GP: When Santana won the Cy Young everyone in Venezuela was so happy because he was the first Venezuelan to win it. Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, those guys are very popular in Venezuela and the people love them.

OC: Are there many differences between the style of baseball played in South America and in the U.S.?

GP: We both play really hard. For South American,s things aren't very good for our families, so we play not only for us, but we play hard for our families to have a better life.

OC: Which position do you feel is your "natural" position?

GP: Shortstop. I've been playing shortstop since I was six years-old. It's fine that I'm not playing shortstop now with Cliff (Pennington) here because playing second might be the key to moving up. I will basically have two positions.

OC: What's the main difference between third base and shortstop?

GP: Mainly the reaction time, but I can tell you that playing second base is different because the angle to the plate and the way the ball comes off the bat is completely. Also, trust me, turning double plays from second isn't easy.

OC: Are you looking forward to playing with Cliff in the middle of the infield again this year?

GP: We played very well together last year. We understand each other. He knows how I like to play and throw and I know how he likes to play and throw. We know each other well even though we played just two months together. We've talked and we are going to do good together.

OC: Is there anything you are looking forward to this year?

GP: To move up, move up, move up. All I want from the Lord is to stay healthy the whole season. If I'm healthy I know I can do something. If you are hurt, you can't do anything.

OC: Are there any goals that you have for this season?

GP: I have a lot of goals. I could say hitting .280 would be good, but I don't want to be hard on myself. All I want is to have a good year and put some good stats in the books.

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