Ambidextrous / switch pitcher Pat Venditte faced off against switch hitter Antoan Richardson in a Spring game this week. Venditte formerly of the Oakland A’s is now pitching with the Toronto Blue Jays, at least for the Spring.
It’s not the first time this has happened obviously, but it’s still a spectacle of confusion every time we see it, especially at the big league ranks. Pat Venditte is the only switch pitcher I know of in the league, so this doesn’t come around often. Venditte is the reason MLB even has rules on the subject. You might remember this video from about 8 years ago.
The rules from MLB.com read as follows:
The pitcher must visually indicate to the umpire, batter and runner(s) which way he will begin pitching to the batter. Engaging the rubber with the glove on a particular hand is considered a definitive commitment to which arm he will throw with. The batter will then choose which side of the plate he will bat from.
“The basis for the rule is that everything the batter does, he does so knowing what hand the pitcher is going to throw with…He may not know what type of pitch is going to be thrown, or its location, but he does know which arm will be used. A manager selects a pinch-hitter based on that knowledge, and that is also how a switch-hitter determines which side of the plate he is going to bat from.”
The guidelines also permit both the batter and pitcher to change positions (from right-handed to left-handed or vice versa) once per at-bat.
That in mind, as clear as the rule is stated there, it’s still not so clear to some umpires. Here’s the little mix up that happened in a Blue Jays Pirates game between switch pitcher Pat Venditte and switch hitter Antoan Richardson.