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'Switch pitcher' Pat Venditte not a novelty act

06/20/2014, 12:03am EDT
By JOHN WAGNER BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders pitcher a one-of-a-kind threat

Fans at Fifth Third Field on Thursday may not have realized they were in for a unique occurrence when Scranton/​Wilkes-Barre pitcher Pat Venditte trotted in from the bullpen.

Venditte can throw effectively with both arms, meaning he threw left-handed against left-handed hitters and right-handed against right-handed hitters. When he faced Toledo’s Trevor Crowe, a switch-hitter, Venditte opted to pitch as a southpaw.

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“I’ll face him from the left side because his splits left-handed are better than right-handed,” Venditte said. “Every time we start a series, I have to figure out who the switch-hitters are on the other team, then figure out how I’m going to attack them.”

As the only ambidextrous pitcher in professional baseball, Venditte even caused a unique rule to be created in 2008. The rule says that a switch-pitcher such as Venditte must decide which arm he will use to throw before a switch-hitter decides which batter’s box he will enter.

The 28-year-old native of Omaha, Neb., hopes to be viewed as less of a novelty act and more of an actual Triple-A pitcher.

“I’m sure I could be viewed as a sideshow, and it’s my job to show people that it’s not,” Venditte said. “If I do my job and throw strikes, then I’m doing that.”

Venditte said his father starting working with him on throwing with both arms when he was just three years old.

“I’m a natural right-hander, but he wanted me to be a switch-pitcher,” Venditte said. “He thought that since there are switch-hitters, there also could be switch-pitchers.”

Venditte uses a unique glove that has a thumb on each side bracketing four fingers, allowing him to wear it on either hand while pitching.

He does not throw hard by Triple-A standards: Thursday his fastball topped out at 85 miles per hour right-handed and 84 left-handed.

But he also was able to hold the Mud Hens scoreless in the fourth and fifth before running into trouble in the sixth, allowing up three hits and a walk that produced three runs.

Venditte’s final line showed three hits and a walk allowed but also three strikeouts while pitching right-handed, with two hits and one whiff left-handed as he got four outs each way.

Venditte was saddled with the loss Thursday, dropping his season’s record to 1-2. He now has a 4.58 ERA after allowing 21 hits and five walks in 17 2/​3 innings while fanning 17.

Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish certainly does not view Venditte as a novelty act.

“I would think having a guy like that in the bullpen would be a valuable guy,” Parrish said. “When you bring him in, it doesn’t matter if the lineup is [right-handed or left-handed]. He can adjust.”

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Patrick Venditte pitched as both a lefty and a righty in the same inning against the Mud Hens. BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT

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