KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Yusmeiro Petit was running out of choices. His major league career had hit rock bottom and was heading nowhere.
In April 2011, the Seattle Mariners released the Venezuelan pitcher during spring training. After starting his career with four mostly forgettable seasons with the Florida Marlins (2006) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2007-09), Petit was left sitting in his Miami home, waiting for a call from any major league team.
No one called.
His only offer came from the Mexican summer league, where he signed with the Oaxaca Warriors in southern Mexico. He lived in a boarding house where he paid $120 in monthly rent.
“I didn’t want to go there, but I was forced by the circumstances,” recalled the 29-year old right-hander.
Three years later, Petit sat in a meeting room in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, hours away from his San Francisco Giants playing in Game 1 of the World Series.
Petit has become a crucial weapon in the Giants bullpen. He has two wins in relief during the playoffs, including six shutout innings in the 18-inning, Game 2 win over the Washington Nationals in the NL division series.
In Game 4 of the National League championship series, with the Giants losing 4-3 against the St. Louis Cardinals, Petit relieved starter Ryan Vogelsong in the fourth inning. Petit pitched three shutout innings, and the Giants eventually won 6-4.
His overall numbers in the playoffs: nine innings, two hits, 11 strikeouts and four walks. Not bad for a player who a few years ago was looking for a chance in Mexico and the Venezuela winter league.
“He has been a blessing for us,” said teammate and fellow reliever Javier Lopez. “He can go a week without pitching, but you ask him to come out and he’ll pitch six shutout innings.”
Petit was signed as a free agent by the New York Mets in 2001. They traded him to the Marlins in 2005, in a move that sent Carlos Delgado to New York. But he never secured a spot in the rotation in Florida, and in 2007 was traded to the Diamondbacks.
Petit thinks his experience with the Oaxaca Warriors was crucial in his career surge. In Mexico he learned to mix his pitches and mastered the curve.
“I was in a slump, which happens to anyone,” he said. “But in Mexico I learned that I had to work harder to keep going and to reach what I was looking for, which was to come back (to the majors) and stay here.”
After playing in Mexico, Petit pitched with the Margarita Braves in the Venezuela winter league. It was there, late in 2011, that two Giants coaches working with Margarita — hitting coach Hensley Meulens and minor league instructor Jose Alguacil — saw him pitch and recommended him to San Francisco.
The rest is history. Petit caught on with the Giants last season, when he became a starter late in the season and had a 4-1 record in seven starts. He was one strike away from throwing a perfect game against the Diamondbacks on Sept. 6.
“I’m here thanks to that almost perfect game,” Petit said.