Meet Pat Venditte, who is simultaneously one of the Yankees' top left- and right-handed pitching prospects.
If Venditte, who will start this season with Calss-A Charleston, makes the Yankees, he'll double the number of ambidexterous pitchers throughout Major League history. The only other pitcher to throw with both arms in a game was Greg Harris, who did it while playing for the Expos in one 1995 game. It was a stunt -- and a pretty lame one at that.
But by all indications, Venditte is for real -- and could pose an interesting threat to MLB batters if he can boost his right-handed fastball from average to above average.
Venditte has been getting national attention for quite a while. As a junior on the Creighton University baseball team, he was profiled by the New York Times.
"A switch-pitcher facing a switch-hitter could make a fine Abbott and Costello routine. Against Nebraska last year, a switch-hitter came to the plate right-handed, prompting Venditte to switch to his right arm, which caused the batter to move to the left-hand batter's box, with Venditte switching his arm again. Umpires ultimately restored order, applying the rule (the same as that in the majors) that a pitcher must declare which arm he will use before throwing his first pitch and cannot change before the at-bat ends.
"'Eventually, after 10 or 15 minutes, they got it figured out,'" Venditte said with a smile.
Venditte's success translated to the minor leagues -- big time. Over 32 2/3 innings for the Staten Island Yankees, he allowed 3 earned runs (0.83 ERA), 13 hits and 10 walks while striking out 42.
Newsday reports today:
"In the Yankees' computer program that tracks their minor-league players' stats, Venditte is listed twice - as a righthander and as a lefthander, because there was no way for the program to break down his splits from both sides. But because he can do both, he's a novelty with intriguing possibilities."