MESA, Ariz. – Pat Venditte showcased his abilities for the A’s on Tuesday in the manner that only he can.
The ambidextrous reliever entered in the top of the third and threw right-handed against Giants catcher Justin Maxwell, coaxing him into a groundout to short that stranded a runner at third. He came out in the fourth and went southpaw against the left-handed hitting Brandon Belt, getting Belt looking for strike three on a wicked slider.
It was a brief afternoon of work – two batters, two outs, two arms used to get the job done. But the A’s exhibition opener showed why the switch pitcher, a non-roster invitee to Oakland’s camp, is meriting such attention this spring.
“It was bizarre,” A’s second baseman Ben Zobrist said. “I saw it the other day for the first time. I kind of shook my head and did a double-take. It tripped me out at first. Obviously he does it well. It’s not like he’s weaker from one side or the other. He’s able to throw all his pitches and spot up from both sides. It’s really fun to watch.”
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Venditte’s outing was only one of the highlights of the A’s 9-3 victory over the Giants, which marked their first game in Hohokam Stadium as their new spring ballpark. There figure to be two spots up for grabs in Oakland’s bullpen, and Venditte, a longtime minor leaguer, faces stiff competition to get one. But each effective outing he turns in will enhance his chances.
“Any time you get to a new team you wanna start out on a good note, and I was able to do that today,” said Venditte, 29.
An A’s coach alerted him before he entered that the right-handed hitting Maxwell likely would be his first hitter. So Venditte came in from the bullpen, threw a few warm-up pitches left-handed and then threw the final few right-handed to make sure that side was ready.
Surely it’s to his benefit that he was able to retire batters from each side in his first outing.
“But I’m so used to this, it doesn’t always work out like that,” Venditte said. “There are days where it will be all righties or all lefties, or I’ll just have one hitter.”