Petit Getting Closer To The Dream

Seven years after signing with the Oakland A's as a 16-year-old, Gregorio Petit is seemingly on the verge of realizing his major league dream. The acrobatic infielder got a taste of the major-league life this spring as he took part in his first big league camp and got to travel with the A's to Japan. Petit is hopeful that his successful spring will lead to a big league call-up sometime this season

Over the past seven years, baseball has taken Gregorio Petit to a lot of places. First, it took him out of his native Venezuela and to the Oakland A's camp in the Dominican Republic. In 2003, it took him to Phoenix, Arizona, where Petit made his US professional baseball debut with the A's Rookie League club as an 18-year-old. This past March, baseball took Petit to a place that he never dreamed he'd be: Tokyo, Japan.

After a strong major league spring training camp during which Petit hit .341 and impressed with the glove, the 23-year-old middle infielder traveled with the A's as an extra player for the A's opening season series in Japan.

Petit hit a career-high .292 in 2007 and .341 during spring training.
"Never in my life did I think that I was going to be on the other side of the world, so it was pretty nice for me. Japan was awesome," Petit said before a recent Sacramento River Cats game at Raley Field.

Petit is starting his 2008 season with the Sacramento River Cats riding a wave of career momentum. He had a breakthrough season in 2007. Petit began the year with Double-A Midland, where he hit .306 in 66 games for the Rockhounds and earned a spot in the Texas League All-Star game. He continued to hit well after a second-half promotion to Triple-A Sacramento, where Petit batted .277 in 67 games as the everyday shortstop for the eventual PCL champions. Most importantly, Petit played outstanding defensively last season.

Throughout the year, Petit had an important goal to strive for. He had been passed over for a spot on the A's 40-man roster before the 2007 season and he was hopeful of being added to the roster before the 2008 campaign. After batting a career-high .292 in a combined 133 games in 2007, Petit felt confident that he had made a strong case for inclusion on the roster, but he was still relieved and excited when he finally received the official word.

Petit has been rated the best defensive infielder in the A's minor league system.
"I was playing in Venezuela in winter ball and one of our scouts came up to me and said, ‘hey, congratulations, you made the 40-man roster.' I was like, ‘oh, okay, fantastic!'" Petit said with a smile.

"You know, after the season that I had last year, I felt pretty comfortable about my chances. I was kind of waiting all off-season to hear the news, but I didn't want to get excited until I heard."

With the spot on the 40-man roster came an opportunity for Petit to compete in big league spring training for the first time. He took full advantage of the opportunity, playing so well that one member of the A's front office remarked that "at times, Petit looked like the best player on the field."

Petit learned a lot from his time in big league camp this spring.

"When I left home, I just really wanted to do my best at spring training. I just wanted to let them know that I can do the job and that I would be able to play up there if they need me," Petit said.

"Thankfully everything came out nice. They gave me a lot of opportunities to show my game."

For Petit, having the opportunity to travel to Tokyo for the Japan series gave him an tantalizing taste of big league baseball.

"Going to Japan was a really nice experience for me. Being with the 25 guys who are on the big league team, I got to learn something every day. And I got to see those big guys from Boston, too, and how they prepared. It was really fun," Petit said.

Now that it has taken him to all corners of the world, baseball has one more place to take Petit: a big league stadium during the regular season.

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