Nati Harnik/AP
Creighton pitcher Pat Venditte delivers a pitch both lefty and righty against Nebraska in
Lincoln, Neb., in these April 18, 2006 photos. (AP)

Switch Pitcher Baffles Switch Hitter, Umpires

June 20, 2008 02:02 PM
by Denis Cummings
Minor league pitcher Pat Venditte, who can pitch with either arm, created confusion for players, umpires and fans Thursday night when he faced a switch hitter.

30-Second Summary

Pat Venditte was making his professional debut for the Staten Island Yankees in a rare televised game for the Class A team.

Pitching righty, Venditte retired the first two hitters and allowed a single. When switch-hitting Ralph Henriquez came to the plate to bat from the left side, Venditte switched his custom-made, six-finger glove to his right hand and prepared to pitch lefty.

Henriquez then turned around to bat right-handed. The two players switched sides several times before umpires stepped in to discuss the issue. After several minutes, they forced Henriquez to choose a side first; he chose to bat righty and struck out against the right-handed pitching Venditte.

The rule in place states that the pitcher and batter can switch sides just once during an at-bat. However, it is unclear which player must declare their side first.

Major League Baseball is expected to clarify the rule in the coming days. The New York Post's Kevin Kernan called MLB and was told that the pitcher must declare first.

Venditte experienced a similar situation while pitching in college. That time, the umpires ruled that he must declare before the batter. For the remainder of his college career, he chose which arm to pitch with based on the switch-hitter’s scouting report.

Venditte, a 20th-round pick in the 2008 draft, is hoping to one day become the first full-time switch pitcher in the modern Major Leagues. In 1995, Montreal Expos pitcher Greg Harris pitched one inning as a switch pitcher, the first to do so since 1888.

Headline Link: Video of the at-bat

Background: Pat Venditte

Video: More on Venditte

Historical Context: Switch pitchers


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines