Saturday, June 21, 2008

Switch pitcher

My guess is that there are about 30 switch hitters in the MLB at any given time. However, I've often wondered why I hadn't even heard of a single switch pitcher. Furthermore, I've been curious as to how that would work. Would the pitcher be allowed to have two gloves with him on the mound? What about switching hands during an at-bat? The questions went on and on.

Well, it looks like I'm finally going to get the answers to my questions.

The Yankees recently drafted Pat Venditte, a switch pitcher, in the 20th round. He made his professional debut in Single A on Thursday during the 9th inning. He started out pretty well, giving up a hit and getting two batters out. But, according to this AP story, the plot then thickened...

Things got a tad dizzying when designated hitter Ralph Henriquez, who had taken his on-deck circle swings as a lefty, entered the batter's box from the right side.

Venditte put his specially made glove (it has six fingers, two webs and fits on both hands) on his left hand, and got ready to pitch right-handed.

Henriquez then changed his mind and switched sides of the plate, because a batter sees the ball sooner when it is thrown by a pitcher using the opposite hand.

So Venditte shifted his glove to the other hand.

Then it happened again.

And again.

And again.

Apparently unsure of how the rules handle such an oddity, the umpires didn't stop the cat-and-mouse game until Venditte walked toward the plate and said something while pointing at Henriquez. Umpires and both managers then huddled and the umps decided the batter and pitcher can both change sides one time per at-bat, and that the batter must declare first.

The ruling favored the pitcher, since he gets to declare last.

About seven minutes after he first stepped in, Henriquez struck out on four pitches as a righty against a right-handed Venditte and slammed his bat in frustration.

As it turns out, the MLB is currently trying to decide exactly what the official rules should be for this situation. So stay tuned...


Pauly said...

Thats some good stuff.

lisa :) said...

If I didn't know better I would say that this sounds like a scene from a Leslie Nielson movie. Actually I think the funniest part is the six fingered glove - would that be an advantage or disadvantage for fielding? (And how long until he hears "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father prepare to die!")

Greg said...

Heheh. I forget which Naked Gun movie it was, but the scene where Nelson is an ump and starts giving all the calls to the home team just to have the crowd cheer him--that's classic!