Pat Venditte: Everything you need to know about MLB switch-pitcher


Pat Venditte: Everything you need to know about MLB switch-pitcher

The Giants are close to a deal with ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte, as reported by NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic

Yes, a switch pitcher.

Venditte can throw with both his right and left arms, and he can do it rather successfully.

Now that we know we could be seeing him as a member of the Giants' organization, here are a few things to get to know him better.

He dominated in his major league debut

On June 5, 2015, Venditte made his major league debut with the A's against the Red Sox after he was promoted from Triple-A Nashville. He became the first full-time switch-pitcher in the modern era to pitch in the bigs.

In the bottom of the seventh inning of the 4-2 loss to Boston, Venditte was introduced to the world and threw two scoreless frames.

He also switched pitching hands during the feat.

There was a rule put in place for him

You're probably asking how he was able to pitch with both arms during his debut. Well, scratch your head no more.

The "Pat Venditte Rule," or "5.07 (f) (8.01 (f)) Ambidextrous Pitchers," in the MLB rulebook states the following:

A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher's plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he has switched. The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches after switching pitching hands. Any change of pitching hands must be indicated clearly to the umpire-in-chief.

This basically says a pitcher (and a hitter) cannot switch hands mid-at-bat.

"Switch standoff"

Speaking of switching mid-at-bat, that's exactly what Venditte and Antoan Richardson did during a spring training game.

Richardson is a switch hitter, so he and Venditte had some fun going back and forth during a time where you can have more fun with it.

And watch former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons call for Venditte from the bullpen:

That's kind of unique, right?

"Amphibious" pitcher

Yes, we know what amphibious means, but that doesn't mean everyone does. The now-30-year-old was referred to as an amphibian by a Northwest paper after he made his debut:

Hey, these things happen. Copy editors have difficult jobs, and it ended up being a viral tweet, so there is some silver lining to it after all.

Some other nuggets

-- Venditte also possesses a unique mitt that he can flip over either hand during a bullpen session or when he's out on the mound. It has six fingers and room for his thumb on both sides:

-- If you're curious what you're getting with Venditte, don't expect a ton of velocity. This isn't anything negative -- he's spoken on the fact that he's not going to be blazing fastballs by the batters, but his unique delivery is what keeps him employed, and since his dad came up with the idea to turn him into an ambidextrous pitcher, he plans on taking full advantage of that opportunity.  

But, lefties beware. His splits show he's ridiculously successful against those hitters ... when he's pitching as a southpaw. Lefties are hitting just .190 off him, and he has given up just 18 hits in 100 at-bats. 

We knew Farhan Zaidi and Bruce Bochy were wanting to bring on platoon players, and Venditte is the most platoon-ish player you can get.

Why Giants mentioned Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole in explaining new staff


Why Giants mentioned Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole in explaining new staff

SAN DIEGO -- When you hear the words "player development," you think of 19-year-olds learning on back fields at the minor league facility in Scottsdale, or a roving hitting instructor spending time making swing changes with prospects Joey Bart or Heliot Ramos, or a coach teaching a Logan Webb or Sean Hjelle a new pitch. 

But when Giants manager Gabe Kapler talks about player development -- and he does so often -- he's also thinking about guys like Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Kapler said this week that there's "not much I feel more strongly about" than players continuing to develop at the big league level, and that played a huge role as he hired a young staff that will ideally bring an innovative approach.

"There's evidence all over the place in Major League Baseball about players who reinvent themselves or take major steps forward and reestablish their value at the Major League level," Kapler said this week at the MLB Winter Meetings. 

The Giants are building for the future, but they also believe they can squeeze much more out of the existing core. And when Bart and Ramos are veterans one day, they want those guys to continue to find new levels, too. As he talked about player development at the big league level, Kapler pivoted and told a story about Bryce Harper, who already had more than 900 games under his belt when he joined Kapler's Phillies last season. 

"Bryce Harper, I think, was influenced heavily by Paco Figueroa, our first base and outfield coach, mostly just because Paco was not concerned about approaching Bryce," Kapler said. "He recognized that Bryce Harper wanted to be coached and wanted to develop, and he was willing to approach. Bryce recognized that so much so that at the end of the year when we were doing our exit meetings, Bryce recognized that Paco had been influential in his career and helped him become a better outfielder and baserunner."

Harper was worth negative-26 Defensive Runs Saved in 2018 according to Fangraphs -- just about the only blemish on his résumé as a free agent -- but was plus-9 in his first season in Philadelphia, a massive improvement. The Giants were actually intent on going that path long before Kapler arrived. When they offered Harper $310 million last year, their existing analytics and coaching staffs had ideas about how they could get more out of Harper defensively with positioning changes. 

Harper's not the only example the Giants will use to sell their vision to veteran players. General manager Scott Harris mentioned Gerrit Cole as another who found new ways to add to his game. 

"Look at the strides he made the last two seasons and now he signed the largest free-agent contract (for a pitcher) in the history of the game," Harris said. "You look at the strides he made when he first burst onto the scene for the Pirates and what he did in Houston. Their coaching staff was largely responsible for the development he saw at the Major League level."

The Astros' staff has gotten a lot of credit for turning Cole into the pitcher the Pirates were expecting when they took him first overall in 2011. Cole had a 3.50 ERA in Pittsburgh and a 2.68 ERA in Houston, where his strikeout rate jumped from 8.4 per nine innings to 13.1. He was worth 15.4 WAR in five seasons with the Pirates and then skyrocketed to 13.4 in two seasons in Houston. 

[RELATED: Kershaw believes Dodgers signing MadBum would be 'great']

Kapler and Harris are not walking into an organization that has a Harper or Cole, but they believe their new coaching staff and player-development methods can get the most out of existing talent. That'll be a focus in spring training, and the conversations have already begun with some veterans. Kapler, who mentioned J.D. Martinez as another example of late-career adjustments, said he has spoken to Posey multiple times since getting hired. 

"I think that a lot of established successful Major Leaguers want to get better and sometimes they don't know how," Kapler said. "In some cases, it's because coaches haven't approached them because they don't want to break something that's working well, but I think those days are gone and I think players crave having coaches approach them and ask them to make changes."

Dodgers signing Madison Bumgarner would be 'great,' Clayton Kershaw says

Dodgers signing Madison Bumgarner would be 'great,' Clayton Kershaw says

Despite what Giants fans want to believe, Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw are friends.

Before many Giants-Dodgers games over the years, they could be seen talking on the field, in plain sight of everyone.

So it should come as any surprise that Kershaw would love to have Bumgarner on the Dodgers.

"I love Bum," Kershaw said Friday at a Dodgers holiday event according to Dodgers Nation. "If we signed him, that’d be great."

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reported Thursday, citing sources, that the Dodgers and Bumgarner have a mutual interest in a deal.

Bumgarner in Dodger blue is the worst nightmare for Giants fans. But it's a real possibility with Los Angeles missing out on top free agent Gerrit Cole.

[RELATED: Padres reportedly looking at Bumgarner]

Kershaw hasn't been able to bring a World Series to Los Angeles on his own, so of course, he would love for a postseason hero to come help him end the Dodgers' title drought.