Venditte is a 24-year-old reliever who was 4-2 with 22 saves last season in 49 appearances split between Class A Charleston and Tampa. So why all the fuss over the 45th-round draft pick out of Creighton University?
Put simply, Venditte is one-of-a-kind, a “switch-pitcher” who is equally adept at throwing with his left or right hand. He is the only such talent in professional baseball, and Girardi is intrigued. Frankly, who wouldn’t be? Venditte wears a specially made six-fingered glove that includes two thumbs, and his minor league teammates have been known, according to one report, to call him “octopus.”
Not only that, Venditte appears to be a lot more than some circus act. He compiled a 1.87 ERA and a 1.069 WHIP last summer, striking out 87 while walking only 11 in 67.1 innings. His talent also caused an unintended comedy routine of sorts to break out in 2008 when he was matched up against a switch-hitter (see video below), which led to new rules being put into play by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation.
“I’ve wanted to see it all spring,” Girardi said. “I think it’s interesting.”
Hard to argue with that.
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Jake Diekman will miss at least half of the 2017 season
Rangers reliever Jake Diekman will have surgery on January 25 to help alleviate ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. As a result, the lefty will miss at least half of the 2017 regular season, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Diekman was diagnosed with the illness when he was 11 years old. He has brought awareness to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America with a “Gut It Out” campaign.
Diekman, who turns 30 years old on Saturday, finished the 2016 campaign with a 3.40 ERA and a 59/26 K/BB ratio in 53 innings. He came to the Rangers from the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade on July 31, 2015.
The Rangers and Diekman avoided arbitration last Friday, agreeing to a $2.55 million salary for the 2017 season.
It’s been on the verge of happening for a few days now, but now it’s official: the Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista have reached a one-year deal with a mutual option. The deal is pending physical. An announcement making the deal official is expected later in week.
The exact financial figures have not been disclosed, but Jon Heyman reports that it will be in excess of the $17.2 million Bautista turned down when he turned down the Jays’ qualifying offer.
Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.