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Yankees to unveil 'switch-pitcher' on Tuesday

Mar 30, 2010, 2:57 AM EDT

The New York Yankees are going to pitch Pat Venditte in Tuesday’s split-squad game against the Atlanta Braves at the specific request of manager Joe Girardi.

Venditte is a 24-year-old reliever who was 4-2 with 22 saves last season in 49 appearances split between Class A Charleston and Tampa. So why all the fuss over the 45th-round draft pick out of Creighton University?

Put simply, Venditte is one-of-a-kind, a “switch-pitcher” who is equally adept at throwing with his left or right hand. He is the only such talent in professional baseball, and Girardi is intrigued. Frankly, who wouldn’t be? Venditte wears a specially made six-fingered glove that includes two thumbs, and his minor league teammates have been known, according to one report, to call him “octopus.”

Not only that, Venditte appears to be a lot more than some circus act. He compiled a 1.87 ERA and a 1.069 WHIP last summer, striking out 87 while walking only 11 in 67.1 innings. His talent also caused an unintended comedy routine of sorts to break out in 2008 when he was matched up against a switch-hitter (see video below), which led to new rules being put into play by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation.

“I’ve wanted to see it all spring,” Girardi said. “I think it’s interesting.”

Hard to argue with that.

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  1. GimmeSomeSteel - Mar 30, 2010 at 3:46 AM

    Follow the hockey rule–the home team gets the last line change.

  2. dumb American - Mar 30, 2010 at 6:57 AM

    What’s Hockey?

  3. Brandon - Mar 30, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    This is very interesting. Never thought it was possible. I have heard of people able to write with both hands. But they couldn’t through a 90 mph fastball either. I batter should have to pick which side to bat from. IMO. But that means nothing.

  4. William - Mar 30, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    He is my brother in laws cousin, it is a trip to watch this kid pitch and the whole family has been rooting for him. He isn’t a freak show and could possibly be a decent reliever in the bigs.

  5. Bg Harold - Mar 30, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Seems as if this guy has some potential but he isn’t likely to make it as some refugee from a carnival freak show, not with the Yankees anyway. Good lock to him,’ll be interesting to see how this develops.
    On the other hand, (no pun intended), maybe the Yankees should bring him north now. If Mariano could throw his cutter as effectively with his left hand he night well pitch until he’s about 70.

  6. Evan - Hartford - Mar 30, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    Imagine the possibilities. A switch pitcher could throw 15 innings. He could be your # 1 and #2 pitcher. Kinda nuts.

  7. talex - Mar 30, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    Hey, Jim Abbott pitched a no-hitter with the Yankees with only one hand, so it’s not that far of a stretch of someone being able to pitch both right-handed and left-handed. It’s more mental training than anything. But it’s great to see a kid have this ability and actually be pretty good. It’s one thing to switch-pitch. It’s another thing to actually be good at it. Good for him. These are the kind of stories we need in baseball. Can’t wait to see him do this. It will be amazing to see.

  8. Jack Meoffer - Mar 30, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    Greg Harris did this in the 90’s. I think he did it once or twice but he is the first I believe.

  9. Amanda Huggankis - Mar 30, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    If he spent as much time pitching as he does yanking at his privates, he’d be a superstar.

  10. wpcorbett - Mar 30, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    Rule 6.06 A batter is out for illegal action when–
    (b) He steps from one batter’s box to the other while the pitcher is in position to pitch
    The first time the batter stepped across the plate, Venditte had his foot on the rubber. Batter is out.
    The umpire can also order the batter to get into the box and call a strike if he refuses. He can refuse to grant the batter a time out. In short, the umpires blew it.

  11. CKEshelman - Mar 30, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    He’s the real deal. Went to Creighton and played against Wichita State – seen him throw many times, solid from both sides. It’s pretty impressive.

  12. Old Gator - Mar 30, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    Dear Buddha, I love this. How did I miss hearing about this guy? He’s the next step in Borg evolution, may the dharmapalas protect us all. Now we know that all the Borg’s “salary limits” were caused by R&D money going into the development of this new unit.
    Absolutely the funniest non-blooper reel of baseball play I have ever seen. I have to admit: this is enough to make me call up U-Verse and demand a subscription to YES. Hell, it’s enough to send me scurrying to to find a cheap round trip to LaGuardia. I really want to be able to tell my great grandchildren I saw this guy pitch.

  13. KrazyK4024 - Mar 30, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    I went to Creighton while Venditte was there, even served as the team’s PA announcer for one season. Pretty remarkable stuff. In actuality, it seemed as though the novelty would wear off, or at least you’d get used to it. But then a visiting radio crew would come in and get excited to see him and you’d realize how unique, not to mention effective, of a player her is.
    In regard to the video, there was a similar incident (although there were likely others) in a game at Nebraska. It went on a for a few minutes before the umpires ruled that Venditte had to declare his arm before the batter.

  14. Old Gator - Mar 30, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    That’s one of the big reasons I love baseball so much – its complexity, the incipient ambiguity of the rules when some of the more remote possibilities of the game intersect like ley lines at a Druid ceremony, and the way new weird situations crop up all the time due to that very complexity. Nothing ever changes in basketball, hockey or even football (much less in that game for upper-thoracic paraplegics, backandforthandbackandforthandbackandforthball), because they all to greater or lesser degrees lack the multidimensionality of the range of movements and the different convergent lines of focus and force at play in baseball.
    I only wish that Bart Giamatti were around to write about this particular situation. Would’ve made a great addition to the baseball chapter of Take Time for Paradise (which, if you haven’t read it yet, you’re really missing out on something splendid). I would have loved to have his take on it.

  15. Sandy - Mar 30, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    Ditto on Greg A Harris:

  16. Jon - Mar 30, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    Where have you guys been? He has pitched for a couple of years in the Yankee minor league system. Pay attention baseball fans.

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