If you’ve watched baseball then you are familiar with switch hitters.
But have you ever heard of a switch pitcher?
Tonight, I got to see Pat Venditte make his MLB debut for the Oakland A’s against the Boston Red Sox. Venditte pitched two scoreless innings. He entered the game in the bottom of the seventh and began his MLB career by throwing southpaw to Brock Holt who grounded out to first. Venditte then became a righty and pitched to Hanley Ramirez who singled off him. However, Venditte, still throwing righty, got Mike Napoli to hit into an inning ending double play.
In the eighth, Venditte remained righty getting Xander Bogaerts to ground out to short and Mookie Betts to fly out to right. It appeared that Venditte would revert lefty to pitch to Blake Swihart. However, before he climbed on the mound he indicated that he wanted to pitch to him right handed. Swihart is a switch hitter, but is weaker from the left side. It was the right call for Venditte as he struck out Swihart. However, the Red Sox won the game 4-2.
In case you’re wondering, Venditte has a custom made glove which has slots for both thumbs enabling to pitch with either hand.
Venditte had spent seven seasons in the New York Yankees organization before signing with the A’s as a minor league free agent.
This is actually not the first time there’s been a switch pitcher in the bigs. In September 1995, Montreal Expos reliever Greg A. Harris threw left handed to two batters in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. I happened to see that game on TV as well.
The difference is that Harris was at the end of his career. In fact, it was his second last big league appearance. Venditte, on the other hand, is at the beginning of his big league career. Venditte, who turns 30 later this month, could be a valuable bullpen asset in MLB for many years to come.
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