Friday, June 20, 2008

Switching Things Up

I've been playing or watching baseball for just about all of my 32-plus years, and I can honestly say I've never seen anything like this.

Staten Island pitcher Pat Venditte is a "switch pitcher," meaning he can pitch with both arms, righty and lefty. The ambidextrous (or amphibious, according to Steve) feat is such a rarity that no one really knows what the rules are surrounding the situation. Can he switch mid-inning? Mid-batter? Mid-pitch?

And everyone's favorite question...what if he faces a switch hitter?

Well, we found out the hard way on Thursday night when Brooklyn's Ralph Henriquez, a switch-hitting catcher, stepped to the plate. Venditte was throwing righty, so Henriquez was hitting lefty. But then Venditte switched to lefty, so Henriquez switched to righty. So Venditte switched back to righty, and Henriquez switched back to lefty. On and on it went until finally the umpires had to stop them both before they got too dizzy.

After much discussion, it was determined that each player is allowed to switch once per at-bat, but the hitter switches first, and the pitcher switches last. So after all that, poor Ralph had to bat righty against the righty anyway, something he later told me he hadn't done in years.

He struck out, unfortunately, but the at-bat became an instant classic and a part of Cyclones lore.

We always tell you to expect the unexpected at KeySpan Park...but even we didn't expect this!

-- Dave


Lisa Gav said...

Thanks for the recap! Live baseball is so much more fun than watching on TV, but without announcers to explain, I was wondering just what the heck was going on when the batter kept switching sides...

Zuma Jay said...

I was at this game. It was an interesting situation. My understanding was that the batter can switch during an at-bat, but the pitcher cannot. So the situation begs the question; when does an at-bat begin? The rules call for the batter to come to the plate "promptly" It seems to me that once the batter gets in the batter's box the pitcher should be allowed to set and throw a pitch, then once the pitch has been thrown, then if the batter wants to he can switch, but the pitcher has to remain throwing with the arm he started with.