With the recall of Pat Venditte, we'll become acquainted with a a rule that we, as Blue Jays fans, haven't had to deal with before.
The Yankees have 4 switch-hitters on their roster (Mark Teixeira, Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran and Aaron Hicks), so we need a way to figure which side of the plate the batter will hit from and which arm the Venditte will use. Fortunately MLB has an
app rule for that.
Here is 2016 Official Baseball Rule 5.07(f):
Ambidextrous Pitchers A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he has switched. The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches after switching pitching hands. Any change of pitching hands must be indicated clearly to the umpire-in-chief.
Basically, the pitcher, Pat, has to declare what hand he is going to pitch with, and then the batter takes the side of the plate that he wants. Venditte can not change hands in the middle of an at bat, unless there is an injury to the first arm that stops him from being able to use it. I'd imagine, in that case, he would be taken out of the game.
Pat would be able to choose to make the switch-hitter swing from his weaker side. Or, if there is a runner on first, he might choose to throw left-handed to keep the runner closer at first. I'm sure he will go into the game knowing which way he'd like each switch-hitter to bat.
Because Venditte can throw with either hand, he can always hold the advantage, even, in some ways, against switch-hitters. He can push them to their weaker side, or force them to hit into the wind or toward the longer field of a ballpark, shorting out their power. If there's a man on first, he might choose to pitch left-handed to improve his potential for a pickoff. "The percentages are always in his favor," says Don Schulze, Venditte's pitching coach with the [Nashville] Sounds. "As long as he's in command, the house is always winning."
This rule comes because of this (this is an 8 minute video, the fun starts about about 1:00):
The umpires, without a rule, finally decided that the batter would swing right-handed, then, of course, Venditte threw right-handed (and got a strikeout). MLB has decided the opposite from this, the pitcher declares first and the batter then chooses his side.
I'm hoping Pat pitches tonight against a switch-hitter, so we can see this rule in practice.
This post liberally stole (with his permission) from Jeremy F. Koo's post, posted on Athletics Nation. last year. Thanks Jeremy.