The Yankees might have an ace up their sleeve.
According to The Associated Press, Pat Venditte is Major League Baseball’s only ambidextrous pitcher, and he will play in his first major league spring training game on Tuesday, a split-squad game against the Atlanta Braves.
The 24-year-old special weapon, equipped with a six-finger glove, is one more arm to add to the Pinstripes’ already strong pitching arsenal. In 2008, Venditte was a 20th-round draft pick. Last season, in 49 games with high Single-A Tampa and low Single-A Charleston, he went a combined 4-2 with a 1.87 ERA and 22 saves.
Manager Joe Girardi has been looking forward to seeing him stun batters with his switch-pitching. He asked that Venditte be called up for a major league game early in spring training.
"I've wanted to see it all spring," Girardi said told The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal-News. "I'd like to put him in against a left, right, left."
It’s a rare gift. As a right-handed pitcher, Venditte owns a 90 mph fastball, curveball and nice changeup. As a lefty, he comes sidearm with a slider and changeup.
Venditte became famous after his first minor league game when he faced off with switch-hitter Ralph Henriquez. The two dueled, switching back and forth before the umpires stepped in, instituting "The Venditte Rule," requiring a pitcher to decide the hand he will use. Then the hitter can choose his side. He struck Henriquez out on four pitches.
Venditte will be in the bullpen for the Yanks with lefty CC Sabathia getting the start.
The rest of baseball will be watching.