OAKLAND – A’s “switch pitcher” Pat Venditte addressed the media Tuesday afternoon before his first regular-season game in front of the home fans.
The guy’s story is so unique and fascinating. Here’s a few good nuggets that perhaps you didn’t know about:
--A natural right-hander, Venditte was asked why his father first started teaching him to throw left-handed at age 3.
“I think he just wanted to see, if there can be switch hitters, why can’t there be switch pitchers to have that advantage?,” Venditte said. “I’ve honestly never sat down with him to have this conversation. I get asked that question all the time. I don’t know if he has a concrete reason for it. I think it was just a way for us to spend time together as I was growing up.”
--Venditte pitched for Team Italy in the 2013 World Baseball Classic – but only as a left-hander. He was coming off of right shoulder surgery, so he was going strictly southpaw against international hitters.
“Up until Friday night (in his major league debut), those were the biggest games I pitched in -- against the Dominican Republic, against Puerto Rico, in Marlins Park with country pride on the line. I was about eight months out of surgery, but I was able to pitch left-handed for Italy. Hopefully in a couple years here I’ll be able to pitch for them again with both.”
--His response when asked if he thinks he’s naturally blessed to be able to pitch with both arms:
“I’ve been blessed with a lot of gifts. As far as pitching goes, I don’t know if that was necessarily one of them. I was blessed with a Dad that put in the time to develop my left hand, because I am a natural right-hander. But as far as being naturally gifted with that, no.”
--Up until a couple of years ago, Venditte was more of an over-the-top pitcher from the right side. Now he drops down and pitches with more of a sidearm motion.
“I was having a tough time getting right-handers out,” he said. “I was much more efficient against guys from the left side. (Pitching coach) Gil Patterson from the Yankees pretty much forced me to pitch sidearm. I fought him quite a bit on it. I didn’t want to do it. But I look back and I’m very grateful he had me do it.”