Saturday, June 21, 2008

Switch pitcher baffles switch hitter

Just when you thought instant replay was the biggest change going in baseball...

On Thursday night, Class-A Staten Island pitcher Pat Venditte showed us the real future in baseball.

Step aside, switch hitters.

Venditte is a switch pitcher.

As hard as it may be to try this at home, Venditte was raised ambidextrous by his father, from the age of 3.

But here's where it gets juicy.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Brooklyn Cyclones DH Ralph Henriquez, after warming up as a lefty, stepped into the batter's box as a right-handed hitter.

Venditte, who wears a specially-made glove that will fit either hand, simply switched to a right-handed pitcher.

Henriquez, not to be outdone, switched to a lefty.

Venditte followed suit.

This chess game went on for a bit, before Venditte started walking toward the plate, pointing at Henriquez.

The umpires intervened and huddled for a ruling.

Apparently, the switch pitching article in baseball's handbook is somewhere on a cutting room floor. So the umpiring crew came up with this solution: A switch hitter or switch pitcher can each switch sides one time during an at-bat. But the switch hitter has to commit first.

Thus, advantage Venditte.

Henriquez fanned on four pitches as both played from the right side, but the theatre that night, likely in front of your typical sparse ninth-inning minor league crowd, would have been priceless.

Venditte could be the first modern era switch pitcher and he might also become a pioneer for little leaguers growing up today. Or at the very least, a byproduct of overzealous fathers.

Fantasy spin: What does this have to do with fantasy baseball? Likely, very little. But with all the lefty/righty platooning managers experiment with, trying to squeeze out an extra few on-base-percentage points, having a switch pitcher would throw some managers for a loop. If Venditte ever makes the majors, he may have quite an advantage, especially if MLB allows him to switch pitching arms mid-at-bat.

Guess instant replay isn't the only thing baseball will have to rule on.


Anonymous said...

Venditte isn't the first switch-pitcher in pro baseball. If he ever makes MLB, he won't even be the first there in modern times. That was Greg Haris, who did it back in the 1990s with Montreal. There were several others who did it back in the late 1800s as well.

Anonymous said...

Even more valuable may be his ability to pitch on significantly less rest. He could pitch left handed on one night, then turn around and pitch righty a few nights later. He could essentially fill the role of two pitchers while using only one roster spot.

Trevor Freeze said...

Harris was a switch pitcher for two batters in his last season with Montreal. Venditte would be the first true switch pitcher in the modern era. true, several pitchers pulled it off before 1900.

Norman German said...

This string is a bit stale, but for what it's worth, my novel SWITCH-PITCHERS will be published next month by BluewaterPress (Florida). In it, Ernest Hemingway smuggles twin Cuban pitchers to the U.S. for a shot at major-league fame. One, it turns out, is a switch-pitcher.

Norman German