Giants might have rotation depth with Petit


Giants might have rotation depth with Petit

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. They say pitching is forever in demand.This time a year ago, Yusmeiro Petit had his doubts.

Petit, 27, had been released out of his minor leaguecontract by the Seattle Mariners. He went home to Miami and waited for thephone to ring. A month passed and nobody called.

I didnt want to go to Mexico, he said. But I need it.

Petit built strength in his troublesome shoulder whilepitching in Oaxaca, then started finding his groove with Margarita in theVenezuelan winter league. His manager there was Giants hitting coach HensleyMeulens and his bench coach was Giants roving infield instructor Jose Alguacil.Both of them used their influence to get him a minor league contract, whichPetit signed in November.

He went on to become one of the best pitchers in Venezuela.Tigres de Aragua picked him up for the playoffs and he was named MVP of thechampionship series.

Now hes back on the cusp of being back in the big leagues.

Petit pitched well enough in minor league camp to get acouple of opportunities in Cactus League games, and hes taken advantage ofthem. He pitched three scoreless innings of relief on Sunday and added fivemore Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, starting in place of MadisonBumgarner. (The Giants didnt want Bumgarner to face an NL West rival, eventhough the two clubs dont meet until May.)

Petit held the Dodgers to four hits, walked one and struckout four in the Giants' 4-1 victory at Scottsdale Stadium. His slider had good movement and his fastball was mostly near thebottom of the zone.

Its only eight innings, but Petit already is racing up thedepth chart. Especially with Eric Surkamps elbow requiring a couple weeks ofrest, the Giants dont have many attractive alternatives for their rotation.And teams never make it through a season with just five starting pitchers. RyanVogelsong is still building arm strength after his back injury, while BarryZito forever will be cause for concern.

Petit has starting experience, but not a track record ofsuccess. He was 3-10 with a 5.82 ERA in 23 games (17 starts) for the ArizonaDiamondbacks in 2009. He has appeared in 150 big league games overall for theDiamondbacks and Florida Marlins.

He knows how to pitch, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Heuses both sides of the plate, hes got savvy out there and good stuff, too. Itsencouraging to know weve got him down there. Were trying to get him stretchedout and hes doing a good job.

Petit said his winter ball experience gave him theconfidence he needed, and hes got a better feel for his cutter and slider.

Ive been throwing a good ball, especially down in thezone, Petit said. Fastball and cutter look the same. Thats hard for thehitters rhythm. My feeling is to stay here, work hard and if they need somethingand call me, thats good.

Hes also glad to have Venezuelas regular-season MVP,Gregor "White Shark" Blanco in his side.

Blanco, I faced him a lot, Petit said, smiling. He got acouple knocks.

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte died early Sunday from a traffic accident in his native Dominican Republic.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played for several Major League teams, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, and was most recently playing in the Korean league.

Marte was playing in the Dominican winter league with the Aguilas Cibaenas team.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.”