Pat Venditte Friday at Fenway Park became MLB's first switch-pitcher since 1995. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

John Farrell marvels at switch-pitcher Pat Venditte: 'That was truly amazing'

Mike Petraglia
June 05, 2015 - 9:47 pm
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Red Sox manager John Farrell can certainly appreciate being part of history, even if it means standing in awe of the opponent. On Friday night at Fenway, Oakland's Pat Venditte became the first major league pitcher since Greg Harris on Sept. 28, 1995 to pitch with both arms in a major league game. Then, Harris was with the Montreal Expos and accomplished the feat in the ninth inning of a game against Cincinnati. That was a year after he left the Red Sox, where he pitched from 1989-94. On Friday, the ambidextrous Venditte was not only pitching from both sides, he was doing so in his major league debut after toiling seven years in the minors waiting for his chance. Venditte entered the game pitching left-handed. He retired Brock Holt on a grounder to first, featuring an 83 MPH fastball and a slider between 72-76 MPH. Hanley Ramirez followed by grounding a slider into left for a single but Venditte quickly rebounded by getting Mike Napoli to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. "This game is all about helping the team and I just want to come here and be able to do that," Venditte said after the Red Sox' 4-2 win over the A's. "And if I can do that, that's all I care about, and whatever attention comes with that is fine. But we're here to win games. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if I'm pitching with both hands or one, it's for one effort. "Tonight, I felt comfortable out there. I was able to get ahead for the most part. I fell behind a couple guys but I felt good out there." Venditte had a perfect eighth inning, getting Xander Bogaerts to ground to short and Mookie Betts to fly to right, before striking out switch-hitting Blake Swihart. A very impressive debut for the switch-pitcher. Farrell was jokingly asked why he can't teach his pitchers to throw with both arms as successfully. "Our hands are full with one arm," Farrell conceded. "That was truly amazing tonight. To watch Venditte, it's a remarkable thing to see what one person's body is capable of doing. The coordination, even guys in the dugout were marveling. This is a very unique thing and a very cool thing." Venditte, 29, just soaked it all in Friday. "It was a special night to have your debut at a place like Fenway and to finally get to be a part of this team," said Venditte, who had his parents, wife and in-laws on hand at Fenway. "My flight landed at 6:15. Got here just after first pitch. It's a been a crazy 24 hours but well worth it. "You play it over a thousand times in your head how it's going to happen. To be honest, I don't really remember a whole lot. A lot of happy emotions, being able to tell my family and friends that the work is starting to pay off." The most interesting part of the night came in the eighth when he stepped up on the mound with two out, getting ready to face switch-hitter Blake Swihart. He faced him as a lefty a year ago in minor league ball but the A's wanted him throwing right-handed, a fact he remembered just in time before stepping on the rubber and indicated by waving his right hand. "I knew I was supposed to face him as a right-handed pitcher so that was my mistake," Venditte said. "I faced him last year in Double-A and I remember pitching against him left-handed. When I got here today, they decided for me to go from the right side. I made the mistake at first. I just had a mind lapse. "I'm supposed to step on the rubber and that's declaring which way I'm going to face the switch-hitter and once I do that, he can get in the box." In 17 games for Oakland's Triple-A Nashville club, Venditte was dominant, striking out 33 in 33 innings, posting a 1.36 ERA and a .970 WHIP, allowing just 17 hits in those 33 innings. "To be honest, the most special thing is being here. It's been such a long journey, spending over seven year in the minor leagues trying to get here. Having this opportunity is what I care most about. "Giving up the game hasn't been something I've thought a lot about. But obviously, seven years is a long time to stick it out. But I love the game and I love being a part of it. It's just been a long haul." "I have a very supportive family and friends back home and a great wife that has put up with the minor league lifestyle for a long time. This is the first year that we've been able to enjoy it a little bit more. But it's been a fun journey. It's taken us all over, met great people so I don't regret a second of it."