V for Venditte, I for Icebox

In honor of Pat Venditte’s spring fling with the Yankees, I’ve got a One-Hopper at Baseball Prospectus, covering not only his appearance but also a history of switch-pitching:

It was only one inning and change in an exhibition game, but on Tuesday the Yankees finally got a good look at Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous reliever who has pitched for three of their lower minor league affiliates over the last two years. Drafted out of Creighton in the 20th round in 2008, Venditte has been regarded by the media simply as a curiosity, and even his own organization has treated him more as a suspect than a prospect. Nonetheless, he’s done nothing but deliver the goods when asked, compiling dominating numbers — 1.53 ERA, 11.6 strikeouts per nine and 6.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, against just 6.7 hits per nine — in an even 100 innings. Intrigued, manager Joe Girardi requested that the Yankees bring him along to the Braves camp for a command performance in a split-squad game. “I’ve wanted to see it all spring,” said the Yankee skipper.

Venditte entered the game in the fifth inning in relief of CC Sabathia, and after warming up with four pitches as a lefty, threw four more as a righty, switching his six-fingered mitt to the opposite hand as he did (alas, MLB.com&’s video edit fails to capture it). The book on him is that he throws harder from the right, with a four-pitch arsenal which includes an 87-89 mph fastball, and scraps his curveball when throwing sidearm from the left, topping out in the low 80s.

He started auspiciously, retiring righty Yunel Escobar on two pitches, the second a grounder. Returning for the sixth, he faced six more hitters, three from the left side and three from the right side, with limited success. Venditte yielded two hits, a walk and a run, but escaped further damage when he induced switch-hitter Brooks Conrad to ground out. Prior to the at-bat, home plate umpire Mark Reilly informed Conrad of the so-called “Pat Venditte Rules” which mandate that a pitcher declare his handedness for the duration of the plate appearance, lest the opponents dance around both sides of the plate until the cows come home, as they did the first time such an occurrence happened in the New York-Penn League.

Along with a couple more grafs about the reactions of Venditte’s Yankees teammates, I appended an updated version of an April 2002 Futility Infielder post devoted to the topic of switch-pitching, complete with fresh links and an appearance by Icebox Chamberlain. It’s free, so check it out!

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