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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