Switch-pitcher Venditte placed on 15-day DL
ANAHEIM -- Just a week after he debuted as the first fully ambidextrous pitcher in the Major Leagues since the 1880s, Pat Venditte headed to the 15-day disabled list Friday with a right shoulder strain. So, of course, the natural question started swirling: Can't he just pitch lefty?
The answer, per Venditte and manager Bob Melvin, was "No."
"Conventional wisdom would just say to pitch left-handed, but with the constant pulling and whatnot, it's tough for anything to heal," Venditte said before Friday's series opener against the Angels. "And I think my best chance to help the team is as a switch-pitcher."
Which he's done -- Venditte threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings, with one hit and four strikeouts, before feeling the pull in his right arm while pitching Wednesday against the Rangers. Incidentally, he was pitching lefty at the time.
"He obviously can be affected by his delivery on the other side, and we just want to make sure we get him as healthy as we can as quickly as we can," Melvin said. "It didn't make any sense for him to try to just pitch left-handed."
The injury is a small fray in the same area of his shoulder where Venditte had surgery for a torn labrum in 2012 while in the Minor Leagues, which kept him off the field for a year. Venditte said this time nothing is completely torn, so the injury will hopefully be short-term and manageable with rest.
Hypothetically, though, Venditte said he could have an injury to one arm that would let him stay off the DL and in the big leagues, pitching temporarily with only the other arm.
"Yeah, I'm sure there's something," Venditte said. "If they asked me to do that, then yes, I would. If it wasn't a situation where it was hampering the recovery process, then yeah, absolutely."
But if something like that happened, would the team send him to the DL anyway? Venditte's true advantage is, after all, his ambidexterity, not the pure effectiveness of his pitches. According to FanGraphs' Eno Sarris, for example, Venditte's sinker has been a below-average pitch in terms of movement, velocity, and swinging-strike rate from both sides.
"I think that for me to help this team, as of right now, what the team needs is me pitching both left- and right-handed," Venditte said. "Without that, at this point, I don't think they need me as just a one-handed pitcher."
Venditte said it was tough being unable to pitch so soon when he finally making it to the Majors after grinding in the Minors for seven years.
"Especially with all those opportunities they gave me in the first week… once you get here, you want to prove you can stay, and I felt that I was off to a good start. So this is terrible timing," he said.
"It went from pure joy getting called up last Thursday ... and being able to help the team as much as I've been asked to do -- and then to have this, it's a big setback."