The Oakland Athletics signed ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
The only switch pitcher currently playing professional baseball, Venditte was selected in the 20th round of the 2008 MLB draft by the New York Yankees and spent the last seasons in the Yankees' organization.
Venditte reached Triple A for the first time this season. In 78.1 innings between Double A Trenton and Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Venditte recorded a 2.64 ERA and had 83 strikeouts.
A free agent for the first time this offseason, Venditte told Newsday he wanted to sign with a team that would invite him to spring training and was attracted to the A's because of their propensity for taking chances on players. He hasn't yet pitched in the major leagues.
"Any time they bring a guy in on a minor-league deal, it's extremely difficult to be on the Opening Day roster," Venditte said by phone. "But I wouldn't be human if that wasn't in the back of my mind."
"Because I do something that's different than anybody else," he said, "I wanted to be in a spot where I'm judged purely on performance, not on how you do it. I think [the A's will] look past that as long as I hold up my end of the deal and perform well."
Venditte switches between throwing left-handed and right-handed throughout games depending on the handedness of the batters he's facing, utilizing a specially designed glove that allows him to easily change hands.
The only switch pitcher in the modern era was Greg Harris, who played for eight teams from 1981-95, though Harris didn't do so in the middle of games as Venditte does.
- Ben Estes