"I kind of had my back against the wall when I was taken off the [A's] roster," Denorfia said. "I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Guys start falling through the cracks [at that age], and I didn't feel like I was done playing.
"I got lucky and picked a team that gave me a shot."
Denorfia, who turned 30 on July 15, experienced a career revival with the Padres, hitting .271 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs in 99 games after being recalled from Triple-A on May 17.
Because of his performance, the Padres have assured Denorfia that he won't face an offseason of discontent, as general manager Jed Hoyer confirmed on Wednesday that the team has reached a deal with Denorfia for $800,000 for 2011.
"That was one of the great things about getting the deal done now," Denorfia said. "It took the uncertainty out of the winter for me. That's something I've never had. It was just really important to get this done as soon as possible."
The Padres reached an agreement with Denorfia before Thursday's 8:59 p.m. PT deadline for teams to decide whether to non-tender arbitration-eligible players.
Denorfia will likely be a fourth outfielder for the Padres and a bat off the bench in 2011 for manager Bud Black.
"This year was ... I couldn't ask for anything else," said Denorfia, who missed the entire 2007 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, an operation that waylaid his career. "It was a pleasure to come to the ballpark every day, and not just because we were winning.
"Even in Spring Training, I enjoyed getting up in the morning. I never had to hit the snooze button."