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Monday, June 8, 2015

Pat Venditte, switch pitcher, reaches the big time but time doesn't stand still.

Switch Hitter VS Switch Pitcher Pat Venditte 2008 video

That old minor league video confirms the worst fears of unimaginative baseball traditionalists who oppose re-entry of players: that there would be an eternal exchange of player match-ups.  It confirms to me:
1. the idiot plate umpire should not be permitted to reproduce
2. the batter, who at one point stops to move his shin guard from one leg to the other, is the least entertaining player of all time
3. the pitcher, Venditte, is also an idiot for joining the delay and stepping back; Venditte should have pitched and forced the bewildered umpire to call a strike.

Instead this led to:

The Pat Venditte Rule: July 3, 2008:

A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he has switched. The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches after switching pitching hands. Any change of pitching hands must be indicated clearly to the umpire-in-chief.
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Pat Venditte September 2008 warming up 9th inning Staten Island Yankees v. Aberdeen IronBirds by Brent Nycz via Wikimedia Commons
What was lost on all concerned, including the minor league announcers, is that the plate ump is implicitly granting time out each time the batter walks across the plate to the other batter's box.  This, of course, is what happens with all batters after every pitch that is taken, they step out and are granted that implicit time out.  Simply do not grant time out.  If the batter steps out, he's out. Somebody alert Bud Light, Manfred the A-Rod Slayer, who has completely failed on improving the pace of play.

I always side with the batters because they are so pathetically over-matched by the pitchers.  However, this switch pitching thing is unique and I fully support the pitcher in this one instance because the pitcher is overcoming something that almost no one else has: switching hands to pitch.  More on this below.

At age 30 Pat Venditte finally pitched in the Major Baseball League (MBL).  Pitching for the Oakland As Venditte threw two scoreless innings Friday against the Red Sox in Fenway Park Boston; with the Red Sox leading 4-2, Venditte pitched innings 7 and 8: Hanley Ramirez singled and fellow rookie and switch hitter Blake Swihart struck out; Boston beat Oakland 4-2. Then Sunday trailing 4-0 in the 8th inning the Red Sox scored seven runs and Venditte entered to pitch to one batter, Dustin Pedroia, who grounded back to Venditte to retire the side; Boston beat Oakland 7-4.

Bats/Throws: Executive Summary Friday, March 1, 2013

1903-2012 righties:
63% PA
73% Innings

2012 righties:
60.42% PA
70.10% Innings

For 836 batters with at least 5,000 PA since 1901:
- 99.6% of righty batters throw righty
- only 42.2% of lefty batters throw lefty; this suggests that some lefty batters may be opportunists
- 54.9% bat right, throw right (RR) ...

There is virtually no such thing as switch pitching.  There a few very brief examples of a righty pitching lefty:
Greg Harris 1986 (two batters)
Ice Box Chamberlain 1888 (two innings) and Oct. 1 1891 (C. Blau)
Larry Corcoran 1884 (four innings; right index finger injured)
Tony Mullane: 1881-1894; supposedly he injured his right and learned to throw with his left but his actual switch pitching may have been rare; please note:

There are three known instances: July 18, 1882, July 14, 1893, and July 5, 1892.  Doesn't mean he didn't do it more often.

Cliff Blau
http://members.dslextreme.com/users/brak2.0
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http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/v/vendipa01.shtml

Pat Venditte

Position: Pitcher 
Bats: Both, Throws: Left , 
Venditte typically throws with the hand needed to gain the platoon advantage.
Height: 6' 1", Weight: 180 lb.

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The other "switch pitchers" were all natural righties.  Venditte naturally throws lefty.

So, since about 1894 we have Greg Harris switch pitching to two batters in 1986 and now Pat Venditte pitching two and one third innings in 2015.  I say give Venditte the advantage.  It's not likely that his skill will be replicated much, if at all.

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