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.
Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your HBT updates here.
Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.