Venditte More Than A Side-Show

In baseball, games and sometimes seasons can come down to those final few innings when managers become more like chess players than baseball coaches. They have to figure out which pinch-hitter to use and which relievers to bring in to have that perfect lefty or righty matchup. The Staten Island Yankees haven't had to deal with that problem so much this year.

If there is a tough lefty sandwiched between two righties in the bottom of the ninth manager Pat McMahon doesn't flinch, he just sends out his ambidextrous closer Pat Venditte.

Venditte, who is naturally right-handed, has worked very hard to become a switch-pitcher. He began at the age of three, but in order to throw with both hands at this level he needs to work as hard as two pitchers often throwing twice the amount of pitches the typical reliever would.

To become effective from the left side also required him to work on his leg kick from both sides. To do that Venditte's father had him punting footballs on the side so both legs would be equally as strong.

As the only switch-pitcher in baseball Venditte receives lots of attention from plenty of media outlets, including members of the Japanese media, but he works hard to prove he's not just a novel attraction.

"The media attention has been great, I'm very fortunate," Venditte said. "There are a guys in this locker room who have pitched as good or better than me and for me to get all this attention I'm very fortunate, and I just want to continue to do well so I merit this sort of attention, and I'm not just some side-show act."

Even though Venditte takes all the attention in stride, his manager says that it has been an issue but it is something he is learning to deal with.

"It is a novelty that he throws from both sides," McMahon said. "He's handled it so well because it is a problem. It has taken away a lot of his workout times as he's investing a lot of his time, effort, and energy doing interviews and talking to fans and different people. Managing his time has become a big part of his learning curve."

Venditte also caught the attention of the league in just his first professional appearance. During that game he faced Brooklyn's Ralph Henriquez who is a switch hitter.

When Henriquez stepped into the batters box Venditte switched hands. Henriquez proceeded to switch to the other side and this continued until the umpires and the managers intervened.

After the game got national attention, minor league baseball issued a clarification of the rule which now says that Venditte must be the first commit to which hand he wants to throw with before the batter steps into the box. Neither player can switch until at least one pitch is thrown and it can only be once.

On the mound Venditte throws harder from the right side where he features an overhand fastball that sits in the 89-90 MPH range. With that hand he also throws an 11-6 curveball, which is very deceptive, and a changeup.

Venditte becomes a sidearm pitcher from the left and loses some velocity off his fastball because it isn't his natural throwing arm. He throws it in the low eighties, with it usually coming in at 81 MPH. What makes him effective from the left side is his slider. Registering in the mid-seventies the pitch looks more like a frisbee than a baseball.

While he is holding hitters to an .083 batting average against from the left side, there is a big question as to whether he will be able to continue pitching as a southpaw into the high levels. The problem is that hitters in short season single-A have problems hitting breaking pitches and the thought is that at higher levels Venditte will get hurt by hitters sitting on the slider.

"I can't just let hitters sit on that slider," he said. "As I move up things are going to change and I have to be ready for when that's going to happen."

One thing Venditte knows are his limitations, as was shown last season when he refused to sign after being taken in the forty-fifth round of the 2007 amateur draft. Most college students would jump at the chance to pitch in professional baseball, but he knew there were things that he had to improve on first.

"Last year I just wasn't ready," he explained. "Pro ball wasn't really on my radar going into my junior year and I had so many things to work on that I wanted to go back to school. I don't know if I would have been ready last year, but I'm certainly glad I waited because I'm enjoying the heck out of it now."

When he entered the draft this year he knew he was ready, but he wasn't sure if a team was willing to give him another chance.

"I was very nervous this year," Venditte said. "Especially after the junior year I had and still not going until the forty-fifth round. I didn't know what they thought of my stuff, I don't have over-powering stuff by any means and I have to get by on competing so I was just hoping I would get chosen and luckily I did."

Now that Venditte is playing professionally he isn't taking anything for granted. Even with all the success he's had as a lefthanded pitcher, he's already been tinkering with his delivery so he can be as successful at higher levels.

"I've been working on a curveball over-the-top and a fastball over-the-top which I haven't really used to much yet," Venditte explained. "Down the line I'm going to need something else to get hitters out and I'm always working on stuff like that."

So far he still predominantly throws side-arm from the left side. One thing he's doing immediately to give hitters a different look is he's been throwing his fastball more often and he has occasionally mixed a changeup in there just to give hitters a different pitch to think about. It's all in an effort to keep doing what he's done his whole life switch pitching.

"I hope I can continue doing it," Venditte said. "I'll have to go out there and show improvement from year to year and I'm going to have to go out there and prove myself, and that's the way it should be. If I can go out there and prove that I can do it I don't see why they would stop me."

Before the season the Yankees' Director of Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer said he didn't think it was likely that Venditte would stick with the switch-pitching, but the Staten Island pitching coach thinks that the fact that he's doing well already is a sign the Yankees are going to wait and see before making a change.

"As long as he's here and he's effective from both sides I don't see why they'd just make him a right-handed pitcher," said pitching coach Pat Daneker. "Otherwise they would have said right away just make him throw from the right side."

So fans eager to see a switch-pitcher in the major leagues must not get their hopes up. Even if everything did go well in this 23-year-old's career, they may see him throw only from the right side and there isn't much novelty to that. For the Yankees that's okay.

"Part of the attraction for us is that he can flat pitch," McMahon said. "And he loves to pitch and compete."

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\r\n \r\n\r\nIf there is a tough lefty sandwiched between two righties in the bottom of the ninth manager Pat McMahon doesn't flinch, he just sends out his ambidextrous closer Pat Venditte.
\r\n
\r\nVenditte, who is naturally right-handed, has worked very hard to become a switch-pitcher. He began at the age of three, but in order to throw with both hands at this level he needs to work as hard as two pitchers often throwing twice the amount of pitches the typical reliever would.
\r\n
\r\nTo become effective from the left side also required him to work on his leg kick from both sides. To do that Venditte's father had him punting footballs on the side so both legs would be equally as strong.
\r\n
\r\nAs the only switch-pitcher in baseball Venditte receives lots of attention from plenty of media outlets, including members of the Japanese media, but he works hard to prove he's not just a novel attraction.
\r\n
\r\n\"The media attention has been great, I'm very fortunate,\" Venditte said. \"There are a guys in this locker room who have pitched as good or better than me and for me to get all this attention I'm very fortunate, and I just want to continue to do well so I merit this sort of attention, and I'm not just some side-show act.\"
\r\n
\r\nEven though Venditte takes all the attention in stride, his manager says that it has been an issue but it is something he is learning to deal with.
\r\n
\r\n\"It is a novelty that he throws from both sides,\" McMahon said. \"He's handled it so well because it is a problem. It has taken away a lot of his workout times as he's investing a lot of his time, effort, and energy doing interviews and talking to fans and different people. Managing his time has become a big part of his learning curve.\"
\r\n
\r\nVenditte also caught the attention of the league in just his first professional appearance. During that game he faced Brooklyn's Ralph Henriquez who is a switch hitter.
\r\n
\r\nWhen Henriquez stepped into the batters box Venditte switched hands. Henriquez proceeded to switch to the other side and this continued until the umpires and the managers intervened.
\r\n
\r\nAfter the game got national attention, minor league baseball issued a clarification of the rule which now says that Venditte must be the first commit to which hand he wants to throw with before the batter steps into the box. Neither player can switch until at least one pitch is thrown and it can only be once.
\r\n
\r\nOn the mound Venditte throws harder from the right side where he features an overhand fastball that sits in the 89-90 MPH range. With that hand he also throws an 11-6 curveball, which is very deceptive, and a changeup.
\r\n
\r\nVenditte becomes a sidearm pitcher from the left and loses some velocity off his fastball because it isn't his natural throwing arm. He throws it in the low eighties, with it usually coming in at 81 MPH. What makes him effective from the left side is his slider. Registering in the mid-seventies the pitch looks more like a frisbee than a baseball.
\r\n
\r\nWhile he is holding hitters to an .083 batting average against from the left side, there is a big question as to whether he will be able to continue pitching as a southpaw into the high levels. The problem is that hitters in short season single-A have problems hitting breaking pitches and the thought is that at higher levels Venditte will get hurt by hitters sitting on the slider.
\r\n
\r\n\"I can't just let hitters sit on that slider,\" he said. \"As I move up things are going to change and I have to be ready for when that's going to happen.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne thing Venditte knows are his limitations, as was shown last season when he refused to sign after being taken in the forty-fifth round of the 2007 amateur draft. Most college students would jump at the chance to pitch in professional baseball, but he knew there were things that he had to improve on first.
\r\n
\r\n\"Last year I just wasn't ready,\" he explained. \"Pro ball wasn't really on my radar going into my junior year and I had so many things to work on that I wanted to go back to school. I don't know if I would have been ready last year, but I'm certainly glad I waited because I'm enjoying the heck out of it now.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhen he entered the draft this year he knew he was ready, but he wasn't sure if a team was willing to give him another chance.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was very nervous this year,\" Venditte said. \"Especially after the junior year I had and still not going until the forty-fifth round. I didn't know what they thought of my stuff, I don't have over-powering stuff by any means and I have to get by on competing so I was just hoping I would get chosen and luckily I did.\"
\r\n
\r\nNow that Venditte is playing professionally he isn't taking anything for granted. Even with all the success he's had as a lefthanded pitcher, he's already been tinkering with his delivery so he can be as successful at higher levels.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've been working on a curveball over-the-top and a fastball over-the-top which I haven't really used to much yet,\" Venditte explained. \"Down the line I'm going to need something else to get hitters out and I'm always working on stuff like that.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo far he still predominantly throws side-arm from the left side. One thing he's doing immediately to give hitters a different look is he's been throwing his fastball more often and he has occasionally mixed a changeup in there just to give hitters a different pitch to think about. It's all in an effort to keep doing what he's done his whole life switch pitching.
\r\n
\r\n\"I hope I can continue doing it,\" Venditte said. \"I'll have to go out there and show improvement from year to year and I'm going to have to go out there and prove myself, and that's the way it should be. If I can go out there and prove that I can do it I don't see why they would stop me.\"
\r\n
\r\nBefore the season the Yankees' Director of Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer said he didn't think it was likely that Venditte would stick with the switch-pitching, but the Staten Island pitching coach thinks that the fact that he's doing well already is a sign the Yankees are going to wait and see before making a change.
\r\n
\r\n\"As long as he's here and he's effective from both sides I don't see why they'd just make him a right-handed pitcher,\" said pitching coach Pat Daneker. \"Otherwise they would have said right away just make him throw from the right side.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo fans eager to see a switch-pitcher in the major leagues must not get their hopes up. Even if everything did go well in this 23-year-old's career, they may see him throw only from the right side and there isn't much novelty to that. For the Yankees that's okay.
\r\n
\r\n\"Part of the attraction for us is that he can flat pitch,\" McMahon said. \"And he loves to pitch and compete.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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