— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 5, 2015
The Oakland Athletics are calling up switch-pitcher Pat Venditte from Triple-A. The soon-to-be 30-year-old has spent eight seasons in the minors since being drafted by the New York Yankees in the 45th round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Creighton University. He has logged 417.2 innings over 259 appearances (nine starts), compiling a 2.37 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.
Venditte landed in Oakland on a minor league contract on November 19th. Perhaps it was just another Billy Beane trick, but Venditte’s ability to pitch from both sides effectively, at least in his extensive minor league career, would appear to be a valuable asset for any club.
The oddity of a switch pitcher led to MLB developing a rule specifically for Venditte:
(f) (8.01(f)) Ambidextrous Pitchers A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he has switched. The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches after switching pitching hands. Any change of pitching hands must be indicated clearly to the umpire-in-chief (MLB, 36).
In fact, only Tony Mullane, in 1882, has been a full-time ambidextrous pitcher in MLB. One pitcher, Greg Harris in 1995, faced two batters with his left hand, walking one of them, but he recorded the other 1,466.2 innings of his career from the right side.
To get a better idea of Venditte’s story, you can view the ESPN E:60 special on him (below), but he will be intriguing to keep an eye on this weekend as Oakland begins a three-game series in Boston against the Red Sox. In between the NBA Finals, the Belmont, and having a really nice Saturday at the Home Depot, watch history take place in MLB.