The Oakland Athletics announced a call-up for relief pitcher Pat Venditte, a rare switch-pitcher capable of effectively using either arm to throw, to the big leagues Friday.
Jane Lee of MLB.com first reported his addition to the roster. Venditte then made his major league debut in Friday's contest against the Boston Red Sox. The A's noted he was the first switch-pitcher to appear in a game since Greg Harris on Sept. 28, 1995.
Venditte pitched two full innings in relief during the 4-2 loss, giving up just one hit and no runs. Fox Sports MLB had more details on his debut:
FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX
This is the same pitcher. Pat Venditte, SWITCH-PITCHER, making his MLB debut. http://t.co/WNe1eFvA5O6/6/2015, 1:10:02 AM
FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX
Venditte gave up a hit, but then got a double-play for a 1-2-3 inning for the #Athletics6/6/2015, 1:10:49 AM
MLB provided a cool look at his delivery from both sides:
.@Athletics promote switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, source tells @JaneMLB. Club hasn't confirmed. http://t.co/pbthYiZ1iC http://t.co/M4GonGh6U56/5/2015, 3:27:24 PM
Venditte had been with the Nashville Sounds, the organization's Triple-A affiliate. The 29-year-old was outstanding through 17 appearances, posting a 1.36 ERA and 0.97 WHIP while striking out 33 batters in 33 innings. Prior to signing with Oakland, he spent time in the New York Yankees farm system from 2008 to 2014.
His versatility obviously creates a consistent matchup advantage. He's able to pitch righty against right-handed batters and lefty against left-handed batters, using a special six-fingered glove. The only issue is when he's facing a switch-hitter.
There's a rule for that, however. The Pat Venditte Rule states the pitcher must first declare which arm he's going to use to throw and must continue to do so until the conclusion of the current at-bat.
Despite the novelty of his approach to pitching, the bottom line remains the same: He must get hitters out at a high rate to stick in the majors. The Athletics have struggled to find reliable arms for the bullpen aside from closer Tyler Clippard and Evan Scribner.
Carl Steward of the Bay Area News Group noted that Venditte is no gimmick:
Carl Steward @stewardsfolly
Good for Pat Venditte. He earned his call-up to #Athletics. Now it's time to make history as baseball's first bona fide switch pitcher.6/5/2015, 5:07:48 PM
Venditte had been pitching well in the minors, so it's worth taking a chance on him, with observers intrigued to see whether his unique path to success translates against the best hitters in the world.