CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Philadelphia Phillies gained two pitchers for the price of one in a trade with the Seattle Mariners on March 12.
The trade won the Phillies Pat Venditte, 31, a rare switch pitcher who can pitch proficiently with both his right and left arm.
Venditte said, “Ever since I started picking up the ball at 3 or 4, my dad was working with me to become right and left-handed.”
His father also recognized that Venditte would need a glove as rare as his pitching.
Venditte recalled that his father traced his hand, faxed it to the Mizuno factory in Osaka, Japan and had a custom six-finger glove made so that it could be worn on both hands.
Venditte is grateful for the edge that comes with being a switch pitcher.
He said, “If you look at the velocity and things like that, I probably wouldn’t be here without that switch pitching advantage.”
Because he can pitch with both arms, Venditte has two sets of pitches.
When asked to describe his pitches he said, “Left-handed is pretty much all side-arm fastball slider, working a little bit more of a change up. Right-handed I’ll work both arm angles over the top and inside arm as well, that’s the difference there and I throw a little bit harder right-handed”
It is not unusual to have a switch hitter in the major leagues, but Venditte’s skill is so rare that it inspired the creation of a new rule in 2008.
The Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation declared that if a switch pitcher faces a switch hitter, “The pitcher must visually indicate to the umpire, batter and runner(s) which way he will begin pitching to the batter.”
The pitcher and hitter are allowed to change positions once per at-bat.
Venditte arrived at Spring Training on March 16.
He said when joining a new team, “you definitely want to start on the right foot.”
Phillies Director of Public Affairs Scott Palmer joked, “you want to get off on the right foot, can you get off on the left foot as well?”