The Toronto Blue Jays made a minor roster move prior to Monday’s playoff game.
The club claimed pitcher Pat Venditte off waivers from the Oakland Athletics and to make room on the 40-man roster, designated infielder Darwin Barney for assignment.
Here’s everything you need to know about the man best known for being an ambidextrous pitcher:
Name: Pat Venditte | Age: 30
Throws: Both (!)
Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 180 pounds
Drafted: 2008 – 20th round by the New York Yankees
2015 MLB stats: 2-2, 4.40 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 23 K, 12 BB, 28.2 IP
Venditte, who has a career 2.39 ERA through eight minor-league seasons, is a potential matchup nightmare out of the bullpen, considering he can face batters as a right-hander or a left-hander.
After pitching for Oakland this season, he became the first ambidextrous pitcher in the majors since 1995, when Greg Harris did so with the Montreal Expos, and just the second since 1900.
How he learned the skill
At a young age, Venditte was trained by his father, Pat Sr., to throw with both arms. The goal was to create value and a leg up in competition. He reportedly also used to punt a football using both legs.
How does it work?
According to ESPN, he throws a fastball, slider, and a change-up while using a special ambidextrous glove with two thumb holes. It allows him to wear the glove on both hands.
Chris Jones of ESPN The Magazine profiled him last month.
He had his boy put each of his hands flat on a piece of paper and traced them, and then he faxed the pages to Mizuno. Several months later, he took a trip from the family home in Omaha, Nebraska, to San Francisco and picked up the glove after its journey across the ocean. It was in a black box. When the father came home, his boy was waiting for him at the airport. Now a 29-year-old man, he can remember perfectly the moment he opened the box and saw the glove that had been made just for him.”
He throws harder as a right-hander, which is his natural throwing hand. His left-handed pitch looks more like a submarine-style throw. Yet, it’s still very effective.
Against left-handed hitters, he allowed no runs in 13.1 innings while giving up five earned runs with a 2.29 ERA against righties.
Where did he come from?
The 29-year-old was drafted by the Yankees twice (in 2007 and 2008) out of Creighton University. He went in the 45th round in 2007 but instead decided to return for school in his senior season. The risk worked out as he was taken in the 20th round a year later.
He spent seven seasons in the Yankees’ farm system before signing a minor-league deal with Oakland this past winter and was called up by the Athletics in June.
His unique skill set caused the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation, per Yahoo! Sports, to put a new rule in place, widely known as the Pat Venditte Rule. The rule stops a switch-pitcher from changing sides during an at-bat and ensures that the pitcher indicates to batters and runners which hand he will pitch with. Once the at-bat begins, he is unable to switch arms.
Is it a stunt?
This is no gimmick. He was highly impressive for triple-A Nashville in 2015 after posting a solid 2014 campaign, registering a 2.64 ERA in triple-A and double-A.