Monday, December 27, 2010

Switch Pitchers in the News

Switch-pitcher comes to Rays with 42nd pick
Despite rare ability, Vettleson likely to make name in outfield
By Bill Chastain /  06/08/10

ST. PETERSBURG -- Drew Vettleson, a high school outfielder/pitcher from Silverdale, Wash., became the third and final pick of the Rays on Monday, Day 1 of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

The Rays selected Vettleson with their "sandwich pick," which was the 42nd overall of the Draft.

Vettleson is also a high school player and possesses the rare ability of being able to throw right-handed and left-handed. Though he can touch 90 mph on the mound, he is known as a better outfield prospect with power potential from the left side.

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Switch-pitcher: More than just a novelty act
Carla Swank | Rivals High  April 19, 2010

New York Yankees pitcher Pat Venditte got the attention of the sports world last month when he became baseball's first "switch-pitcher" in a spring training game - throwing to batters as both a right-hander and left-hander.
Drew Vettleson, a senior at Central Kitsap High in Silverdale, Wash., was watching more closely than most.
Vettleson is an ambidextrous pitcher, too.
Read More 

How do you beat a guy who throws righty and lefty? You don't.
by Rick Reilly | ESPN The Magazine

You'll probably never witness an unassisted triple play in your lifetime, right? (There have been only 14.) Or see an intentional walk with the bases loaded. (Six.) Or watch one player hit two grand slams in an inning. (Once.)
But you can see something right now that hasn't been around in baseball since the late 1800s: a switch-pitcher.
His name is Pat Venditte, he's 23, and he's pro baseball's only ambidextrous pitcher.

Yanks fond of switch-pitching Venditte
In relief of Sabathia, 24-year-old gets results from both sides
By Bryan Hoch /  March 30, 2010
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Listing Pat Venditte's name on the Yankees' travel roster on Tuesday was born out of curiosity for manager Joe Girardi, who has been scouring the organizational reports on the switch-pitcher with a certain level of fascination.
Yet for the 24-year-old Venditte, coming out of the bullpen to relieve CC Sabathia against the Braves represented an opportunity to showcase his stuff -- with both arms -- while hopefully demonstrating that his career is more than just a popular Minor League gimmick.
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Girardi intrigued by 'switch-pitcher'
Venditte likely to appear in Yanks' game against Braves
By Anthony DiComo /  March 29, 2010

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Joe Girardi does not usually have input on which Minor Leaguers accompany the Yankees on Spring Training road trips. This spring, however, Girardi made one special request.
Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous "switch-pitcher," will accompany New York to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Tuesday for a 1:05 p.m. ET split-squad game against the Atlanta Braves on MLB.TV. There is a good chance that Girardi will call on Venditte to pitch in his first Major League Spring Training game.
"I've wanted to see it all spring," Girardi said. "I think it's interesting."
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Switch-Pitcher Venditte Impressing Fans but Not Many Scouts
By ALAN SCHWARZ | NY Times June 13, 2009
CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Yankees, whose bullpen is among the worst in the American League, have two arms in Class A ball leading the minor leagues in saves. The left-handed one has kept hitters to a .121 batting average; the right-handed one has not walked anyone in 20 innings. This would all be rather straightforward, except that both arms belong to the same body.
Pat Venditte, the only switch-pitcher in professional baseball, is one of the most dominant — and well-known — players in the minor leagues. National news organizations travel to Charleston, S.C., to revel in his uniqueness. Fans see his statistics and dream of matchup mayhem. But experienced talent evaluators see not just one underwhelming fastball, but two. Sorry, kid.
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The Switch Pitcher
Minor League Ball Player Blessed With 2 Great Arms, Prompts New Pitching Rule
By Jim Axelrod, CBS Evening News  May 21, 2009
Pat Venditte is a pitcher who puts on his pants just like every other minor leaguer. But when it comes to his glove …

It's a six-fingered glove," Venditte said. "There's two thumbs. There's one pocket here in the middle." 

That's when you realize he is unlike any pitcher you've ever seen, blessed not with one great arm, but two, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod.

The reversible glove allows him to switch pitch in a moment's notice, throwing a 90 mile-an-hour fastball with his right arm, then unleashing a collection of baffling curves with his left. 

Baseball Players Change-Ups
CBS Evening News  July 15, 2008

Ambidextrous Staten Island Pitcher, Pat Venditte pitches lefty and righty. Brooklyn's switch-hitting catcher, Ralph Henriquez attempted to switch accordingly. This charade went on for several minutes.
Watch the Video

Creighton's Venditte is two pitchers in one
by Sam Miles, Columbia Missourian, May 6, 2008 

It’s the eighth inning of Tuesday’s Creighton-Missouri game, Creighton leading 4-1, and Bluejays pitcher Pat Venditte has just made Tigers outfielder Ryan Lollis look silly. Pitching left-handed and releasing the ball from a point just above sidearm, Venditte fired three consecutive nasty pitches, the final one resulting in a swing, a miss, and a return to the dugout for Lollis. He never had a chance. 

Pat Venditte is an oddity. He’s a pitcher, he’s ambidextrous, and he’s very good, good enough to be drafted by the Yankees last year. Because batters tend to hit considerably better when facing a pitcher throwing from the opposite side, Venditte always has the matchup advantage. When a left-hander comes to bat, he pitches left-handed, and when a right-hander is up, he throws right-handed. According to the Creighton media guide, he’s a natural right-hander who has been able to throw with both arms since he was three years old.

Ambidextrous Venditte turning heads 
Creighton University reliever a complete bullpen in himself
By Conor Nicholl /  May 18, 2007

NORMAL, Ill. -- At first, Pat Venditte resembled hundreds of other collegiate pitchers. The Creighton University reliever entered Saturday's contest against Illinois State and started throwing left-handed. Every pitch was tossed sidearm and crossed the plate at 78-81 mph.

After a few throws, however, Venditte made a remarkable transformation.

He moved his glove to his left hand and started throwing right-handed. This time, every pitch was thrown over the top and hit the catcher's mitt at 88-91 mph. He repeated the process to three hitters, hitting a batter right-handed, coaxing a double play left-handed and striking out another with a right-handed curveball.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bob Feller - 'Rapid Robert'

#19 Cleveland Indians
nicknamed "The Heater from Van Meter", "Bullet Bob", and "Rapid Robert"
November 3, 1918 – December 15, 2010 (aged 92)

Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right

Throws: Right
Height: 6' 0"

Weight: 185 lb.

Bob Feller grew up on a farm in Iowa, and in his spare time he loved playing baseball. His father built a baseball diamond on the farm that he named "Oak View Park", then recruited his son and others to play for a team he named The Oakviews.

Feller was signed at age 16, by scout Cy Slapnicka for $1 and an autographed baseball. What a steal. Known for his high leg kick, this All-star pitcher could bring the heat - throwing the fastball over 100 mph. Feller credited his arm strength and ball speed to milking cows, picking corn, and baling hay.

Career Highlights
- Winningest pitcher in Cleveland Indians history (266 victories)
- 8-time All star
- Inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1962
- Record:   266–162
- Strikeouts: 2,581

Bob Feller - Wikipedia 

Bob Feller Museum 

Bob Feller Stats and History 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Three pitches for Little Leaguers

Forget about throwing the curveball when you are 9 years olds. Here are three pitches that a Little League pitcher can use to keep hitters off balance and mess up their timing.

1) 4-seam fastball
2) 2-seam fastball
3) changeup

These pitches can be thrown with the same arm angle and speed. The key is to locate the pitches on the corners or low in the zone for strikes.

4-seam Fastball - The Heater
Use the 4-seam fastball on most of your pitches. Throw the fastball on the inside or outside corner for strikes. If they start fouling it off, then switch to the two seam fastball.

2-seamer - The Sinker
Hitters have trouble tracking the movement of a 2-seam fastball, especially when thrown by a lefty pitcher. The 2-seamer thrown toward the middle of the plate, by a lefty, can run low and away from a right handed hitter. The pitch will run to the outside of a left-handed hitter, when thrown by a right-handed pitcher.

Cy Young award winner Félix Hernández throws a fastball that has been clocked at 100 mph, although he does not rely entirely on overpowering velocity. Instead he uses a two-seam fastball, which comes in a bit slower but with more movement and the ball sinks as it approaches the batter. (Wikipedia)

The changeup - Keeping the hitter off balance
The chageup works great for keeping a hitter guessing and makes them look silly when they lunge at the slow moving ball. The pitch is thrown with the same arm motion as the fastball, but using a loose three finger grip.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pat Vendetti - Ambidextrous Pitcher is Double Threat

by Kevin O'Donnell, FOX 13 Tampa Bay
TAMPA - Pat Vendetti causes a lot of double takes. He's not a twin, but he's two different pitchers -- actually ambidextrous. He started at the age of three.
"It was my Dad's idea," Vendetti said. "He's been working with me ever since I started. He's been very supportive of me and I wouldn't be here without him today. I'm very appreciative of that."
For Vendetti, throwing with both arms comes natural. What makes it easier is his specially designed six-finger, two-pocket glove.
"It's a six-fingered glove," he says. "Two-thumbed glove with the pocket in the middle. You just kind of catch the ball over here, your makeshift pocket on either side. Depending on which hand you are catching with."

In 2010, Vendetti was one of the top relievers for the Tampa Yankees with an ERA of 1.84 in 24 games.

Little Leaguer's Elbow


Little Leaguer's Elbow is pain on the side of the elbow that is closest to the body. In Little Leaguer's Elbow, the growth plate is irritated or inflamed. This problem is often caused by overuse of the throwing arm by pitchers.

The most important treatment for Little Leaguer's Elbow is to not throw if the growth plate is inflamed. Rest the arm and see a doctor for treatment.

Read more

Source: University Sports Medicine, University of Buffalo

The best way to prevent Little Leaguer's Elbow is to limit the amount of throwing a player does. Since this problem occurs the most in young pitchers, there are guidelines for how many pitches or innings a child can throw in a week.

Even without overuse, poor throwing mechanics can lead to arm injury, so it is important to learn proper throwing techniques from an experienced coach.

Little League Pitch Count Limits and Mandatory Rest Rules Remain in Place for 2011
In an effort to stem the alarming increase in elbow and shoulder injuries among young baseball pitchers,  Little League Baseball adopted important new rules in 2007 to limit the number of  pitches a pitcher can throw in a game and how much rest he must take pitching appearances.

Read more


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Throwing Strikes - Changeup

The changeup is thrown with the same arm angle and speed as a fastball, but using a looser three-finger grip instead of two. Players with small hands often use the claw grip, while players with larger hands can use a circle changeup. 

According to pitcher Steven Ellis - The key to an effective changeup is deception. A changeup must look like a fastball, but come in slower and lower in the strike zone.

A fastball is held tightly with the index and middle fingers. With the change up, you hold the ball lightly, keeping the wrist loose, and there is more contact with the ball to create friction. 

Think fastball arm speed
The arm speed of a changeup should be the same as a fastball. Young pitchers tend to slow their arm motion down and good hitters will soon recognize the pitch as being off speed. A good changeup looks like a fastball on release, but is 8-10 mph slower than the pitcher's fastball. The slower velocity of the ball causes a hitter to slow down their swing and lunge at the ball. The result is often a swinging strike, foul ball, or a weakly hit ball put into play for an out.

In addition to the unexpectedly slow velocity, the changeup can also have a significant amount of movement, which can bewilder the batter and throw off their timing. The best changeups utilize both deception and movement.

How To Throw Changeup - Steven Ellis
Usually, with a fastball, you have 100 percent of your strength in these two fingers, the index and middle fingers. You take 50 percent of that strength away by removing the index finger. So you're holding the ball real lightly. ... Your wrist is real loose. The ball is real loose in your hand. And you just throw a fastball.

ViewDo: How to Throw a Changeup (video)


A fool for you: Changeup an effective weapon

Off-speed pitch that looks like a fastball can mess with hitters

Video of Jason Vargas talking about how he uses his changeup

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ambidextrous Coach - Joe Vavra

Joseph Alan Vavra
Born: November 16, 1959 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Bats: Left
Throws: Right or Left
Positions: 2B, 1B, SS, 3B, OF, C
College: University of Wisconsin-Stout

Joe Vavra, htting coach for the Minnesota Twins can throw right- or left-handed. This talent comes in handy when throwing batting practice. 

Vavra threw right-handed as a player, going from Wisconsin-Stout to the Dodgers' organization and reaching Class AAA.
At age 11, he began toying with throwing left-handed, too. He tried it only once in a game, pitching to one hitter in an amateur contest and inducing a ground out. (source:

Twins fail first test vs. lefties | StarTribune

SEATTLE - Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra usually throws batting practice with his right arm, but the schedule has taken a strange twist, so there he was in the batting cage Tuesday, pitching lefthanded.
Vavra is ambidextrous, an uncommon bonus at a time like this.
The Twins don't have a lefthanded batting practice pitcher, and they're in the process of facing six lefties in a row.

Joe Vavra - Wikipedia

Joe Vava - Managing and Coaching History