<
>

Ambidextrous pitcher Venditte irks Cubs

MESA, Ariz. -- The chatter about Oakland Athletics reliever Pat Venditte was still going one day after he threw both left-handed and right-handed in the same inning against the Chicago Cubs in a spring game Thursday.

Venditte pitched the third inning throwing lefty to switch-hitter Dexter Fowler and first baseman Anthony Rizzo before putting his glove on the other hand and throwing righty to right-handed hitter Starlin Castro. But the Cubs took exception to how it all went down, starting with Fowler’s at-bat to start the inning in which Venditte warmed up throwing righty -- then switched to lefty as Fowler stepped in.

“I was swinging (during warm-ups before the inning) left-handed because he was throwing right-handed,” Fowler said after the game. “Then he gets up there and switches, so I asked the umpire. My whole thing was I should be able to take some practice swings instead of just walking up there and having to hit.”

The pitcher is required to declare what arm he is going to throw with before the batter steps into the box. Venditte waited until warm-ups were over, making Fowler believe he was pitching right-handed.

“The only thing I probably did wrong was not force more time for him (Fowler) to get warmed up as a right-handed hitter,” manager Joe Maddon said Friday morning.

After retiring both Fowler and Rizzo, Venditte then switched hands to pitch to Castro. But before getting back on the mound, he quickly threw to his second baseman with his right hand using the moment as a quick warm-up. That didn’t sit well with Cubs either.

“This guy is not permitted to warm up throwing to infielders with his other hand as the next hitter comes up,” Maddon implored. “Those are the things that need to be tightened up.”

Even after the complaints, the Cubs could appreciate the uniqueness of an ambidextrous pitcher throwing in the big leagues.

“I can’t brush my teeth with my left hand, so to be able to throw a fastball 85 miles per hour, it’s like ‘wow,’” Maddon said.