The Oakland A’s have one player at training camp this spring that everyone is talking about. That would be ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte. Yes, you heard me correctly. Venditte can pitch both left and right handed, and he is pretty good.
Venditte has been in the minor leagues for seven years with the New York Yankees but had the opportunity to sign with the Oakland A’s as a free agent this offseason. It is easy to see why the Athletics would want him in on their team. The Athletics love constructing unique lineups for each game based on the batter vs. pitcher matchup and Venditte gives them even more flexibility and control over the matchup between pitcher and batter.
So how does that work during a baseball game? Can Venditte switch pitching arms whenever he likes? As it turns out, there is a ruled name after him because of an incident at a college baseball game where a switch hitter and Venditte had a five minute stand off as one player would switch sides and the other would follow suit in order to gain the advantage. Thus came the Pat Venditte Rule. Like a switch hitter, a switch pitcher must indicate which side he plans to pitch from and cannot switch sides until the batter is retired. So, Venditte can switch pitching arms in between batters but not in between each pitch.
Additionally, since Venditte can pitch with both arms, he uses a special glove. This glove has two thumb holes so he can easily switch the glove from one hand to another. Even though this glove looks weird, he has been using one like this since he was seven years old and it works much better than switching to an entirely different glove for each batter.
Venditte’s two-thumbed glove: pic.twitter.com/AQAwA5zaks
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) February 20, 2015
The real question is will Venditte be able to make the big league roster. Currently that Oakland A’s have 62 players reporting to spring training camp and only two bullpen spots open. This reliever’s ambidextrousness definitely gives him the edge over some of the other relievers vying for a bullpen position but Venditte also has to prove that he can be consistent and retire batters.
When it comes to Venditte’s pitching, he has three pitches on both sides – a fastball, changeup, and slider. From both sides, Venditte’s slider is his strongest pitch. The only difference between his two sides is that on his right side, Venditte pitches with a side arm delivery. Unfortunately, his velocity ranges from the high 70s to the mid-80s, which is slightly concerning.
Even though his pitch speed is on the slower side, Venditte is able to get a leg up on the hitters by analyzing each player’s splits against left and right handed pitchers prior to the game. By doing this, Venditte can decide before the game which side he will pitch from for each batter that comes to the plate. And so far, that has worked well for him. Over four seasons of college ball, Venditte had a 2.86 ERA with 255 strikeouts and only 64 walks in 245 innings. Additionally, he has a minor league career 2.46 ERA and an average of 10 strikeouts per nine innings.
Manager Bob Melvin told that press that the Oakland A’s value versatility and that Venditte should fit right in with this team. If Venditte can show his effectiveness this spring, then the Oakland A’s will strongly consider him for one of the open bullpen spots. Because of his unusual talent, Venditte has already made an impression on the Athletics coaching staff. They will definitely keep him in mind if he does not initially make the big league roster.
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