Switch-hitters are a dime a dozen in the MLB, but when it comes to switch-pitching, it’s a different story. For the first time in 20 years, an ambidextrous hurler will take the mound, as 29-year old right/left-handed reliever Pat Venditte was called up by the Oakland Athletics this morning.
Venditte’s been toiling in the minors for a long time, and is actually the cause of a rule introduced by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation in 2008 stating that a pitcher must indicate to the batter and the umpire which hand he intends on throwing prior to toeing the rubber. The rule gives the advantage to switch-hitters, who can then decide which side of the plate they want to bat from after seeing the pitcher’s decision. The rule allows the batter and pitcher to switch sides once per at-bat.
Here is the 2008 incident that led to the Venditte Rule, from his time with the Staten Island Yankees:
With the call-up, Venditte will become the first switch-pitcher in the Show since Greg Harris flashed off his ambidexterity with the Expos back in 1995. Harris, though, did it in a single game; this is Venditte’s thing.
Venditte was drafted by the Yankees in 2008 and has bounced around the minors for the past seven years. He will likely be used mostly in a middle relief role, though he did come on as a closer early on his pitching career.