MESA, Ariz. -- Pat Venditte has drawn lots of attention for his ability to pitch with both hands.
On Wednesday he received a visit at A’s camp from the man responsible for his unique talent.
Pat Venditte, Sr., watched from the stands at Fitch Park as his son, a non-roster invitee with Oakland, faced hitters for the first time this spring. Afterward, Venditte brought manager Bob Melvin over to meet his father, who first started teaching his son to throw with both hands at age 3.
“It wasn’t just throwing,” the elder Venditte said. “When he was 3 years old, we had a kicking tee. You’d put the ball on the tee and he would kick it 10, maybe 15 times with both legs … to get that lift, the feel, the muscle memory.”
Asked to pinpoint when he first thought his son had a realistic chance to switch-pitch competitively, Venditte Sr. said: “When you see kids at that age -- 4, 5, 6,7, 8 -- it all looks the same (throwing). I don’t know that there was any real difference, other than he was able to do what other kids were doing, with both arms.”
Venditte, a natural right-hander, continued honing his pitching ability through the years and eventually was drafted by the New York Yankees and spent seven seasons as a reliever in their minor league system. At 29, he’s still looking for his first big league opportunity.
Melvin watched Wednesday as Venditte first delivered pitches from the right side, then took a break and took the mound as a lefty. Venditte throws a fastball, slider and changeup with both hands, but he has more velocity on his right-handed fastball.
“He’s got a real consistent arm slot from both sides,” Melvin said. “I’ve never seen anybody that’s able to master that and look like he belongs on both sides. It takes a little extra work to get him through his day than somebody else, but he continues to impress with his location.”
Melvin also enjoyed getting the chance to meet Venditte Sr., who at age 69 plays catcher for an over-65 baseball team.
“I asked (Venditte) if he would introduce him,” Melvin said. “He’s a really big fan of his son. A very nice man.”