A's call up switch-handed pitcher Venditte from Triple-A
BOSTON (AP) Pat Venditte took his warmup pitches in his major league debut with his right arm. And his left.
The ambidextrous pitcher entered the game against the Boston Red Sox at the start of the seventh inning after being called up Friday by the Oakland Athletics.
Wearing a specially designed glove, he threw warmup pitches with his right hand then switched to his left to face lefty Brock Holt.
After Holt grounded out to first, Venditte put his glove on his left hand and pitched to righty Hanley Ramirez, who singled on the second pitch. Then, still pitching with his right arm, he got righty Mike Napoli to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Fans may stare when Venditte switches his glove from one hand to the other, but the Athletics promoted him because he pitched very well this season at Triple-A Nashville.
''There's a little bit of a sideshow to it for good reason,'' Melvin said. ''But the reason he's here is because he's performed.''
Venditte took the mound to the song ''Both Sides, Now,'' performed by Joni Mitchell.
In 17 outings this season, 16 in relief, Venditte was 1-0 with a 1.36 ERA and held opponents to a .167 batting average. In eight minor league seasons, the first seven in the New York Yankees organization, he has a 2.37 ERA with 52 saves and nine starts.
The last time a pitcher threw with both hands in a major league game was on Sept. 28, 1995, when Greg Harris did it with the Montreal Expos. It was the next-to-last game of a career in which he appeared in 703, and he is the only pitcher in the modern era to do that.
In other moves, the Athletics optioned right-hander Dan Otero to Nashville and moved Coco Crisp to the 60-day disabled list with a neck injury.
Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt faced Venditte in the minors about five years ago.
''It's a sight to see and he's very good both ways,'' Vogt said. ''When we signed him I was excited because I want to see what it's like to catch a guy like that. He's kind of got the same stuff from both sides. So whether it's a right-handed hitter or a left-handed hitter, you call the game accordingly. It's fun to see.''
Venditte has the matchup edge, throwing left-handed to lefties and right-handed to righties, except when he's facing a switch-hitter. In that case, the rule states he must decide which arm he's throwing with and the batter adjusts to that. He rarely, if ever, changes throwing arms within the same at-bat.
''He told me when he was with the Yankees in Triple-A that if his pitch count was too high left-handed they would have him just throw the rest right-handed to conserve his arm for the next day,'' Oakland bullpen coach Scott Emerson said.
Venditte wasn't expected to arrive until just before game time, but Melvin said he would be available to pitch, preferably in a low-stress situation.
''It's a little bit of a novelty,'' Melvin said. ''You're curious to see if this really is functional, and all he did in spring training is perform for us. I think he only had one or two outings where he even gave up runs and he's been doing the same thing in Triple-A.''
The 29-year-old Venditte was 3 when he began using both hands. He's a natural right-hander, so he worked hard to become effective from the left side. He's thrown with both well enough to reach the majors, obviously.
''I can't even fathom how somebody can do that,'' Melvin said. ''It's tough enough to perform at this level throwing on one side, let alone two.''
Pitching coach Curt Young had a succinct description: ''It's just a gift.''