I got to watch the major league debut of Pat Venditte tonight. He is a 29 year old pitcher for the Oakland A’s. He pitched two innings against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and pitched well. He retired 6 of the 7 batters he faced with one strikeout and no walks or runs allowed. The fact that he pitched well isn’t what made it fun, though. And neither is the fact that he is 29, which is old to be making a major league debut. The thing that made it so cool is that he is an ambidextrous pitcher.
Venditte was in the Yankees minor league system for the past seven years. I had heard and read stories about him, but I never saw him pitch. He always pitched well in the minors, but the Yankees aren’t really the kind of team to take a shot on an unproven anything, let alone a switch pitcher, so he toiled away in the minors and never got a shot (God do I hate the Yankees). This spring, he signed a minor league deal with the Athletics and pitched well for them. So, today, since the A’s are the type of team to take a shot on all kinds of unproven things, he got his first chance at the major league level.
It was so weird and fun to see him pitch from both sides. He threw right handed against righties and left handed against lefties. And I even got to see the Venditte rule in action (it is quite cool that he has a rule named after him). Blake Swihart is a switch hitter. When a switch hitter is facing a switch pitcher, the pitcher must declare which arm he will throw with and then the batter can choose which side to hit from. Once they have made their decisions, they must stay that way throughout the plate appearance. While it looked like Venditte and Swihart knew what was happening, the announcers and umpires all seemed confused.
So, congratulations to Pat Venditte. Thank you for letting me see something new. I hope you have a long and successful career.