A’s make history with two-armed call to the bullpen

The Athletics made baseball history Friday when ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte was called up and appeared for Oakland  in Friday night’s series-opening 4-2 loss against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound lefty — and righty — joined Oakland from Triple-A Nashville, becoming the first player to pitch with both his right and left hands since Montreal Expos pitcher Greg A. Harris on Sept. 28, 1995.

Doug Miller, senior writer for Major League Baseball spoke with Harris on Friday, who on congratulating Venditte said:

“He’s a good kid and he’s worked his tail off for this. He’s earned it.”

With his specially made six-fingered glove, Venditte gained national attention for his exceptional skill in his June 2008 debut for the Staten Island Yankees.

His ninth inning matchup in 2009 against Brooklyn Cyclones switch-hitter Ralph Henriquez consisted of hitter and pitcher switching their positions both in the box and on the mound, causing a delay:

The delay of game prompted the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation, in line with the Major League Baseball Rules Committee to create the “Venditte Rule.”

The rule states that the pitcher must inform the umpire, batter and runners which hand he will throw with for each batter he faces. If the batter is a switch hitter he is allowed to hit from either side but the pitcher can not switch throwing arms during the at-bat.

The A’s signed Venditte back in November and the switch-pitcher has proven to be successful for the Nashville Sounds with a 1-0 record and a 1.36 ERA in 17 games, striking out 33 batters, allowing 19 hits and only five runs.

Bullpen coach Scott Emerson joked with reporters in Boston Friday that:

“We like to think he’s 35 pitches from each arm.”

Manager Bob Melvin, according to Bay Area News Group’s John Hickey, admitted that there will be some sideshow over Pat Venditte as MLB’s first switch-pitcher “but he’s here because he can do the job.”

To make room for the new addition, the A’s optioned right-handed reliever Dan Otero to Triple-A Nashville Sounds and transferred outfielder Coco Crisp to the 60-day disabled list.

Venditte entered Friday night’s game in the eighth inning as Fenway Park’s organist humored fans by playing Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now.”  He finished his major league debut pitching two innings with one strikeout, and zero hits on the books.

He threw with both arms Friday night and told reporters:

“Whatever attention comes with it is fine, but we’re here to win games. It doesn’t matter if I’m pitching with both hands or one. It’s one effort.”