MESA, Ariz. — After a decade learning to become an accomplished major league switch hitter, the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler figured he was ready for just about anything – until he met his switch-pitching match Thursday in the third inning of a the Cubs’ home spring training opener against the Oakland A’s.
Pat Venditte, a 29-year-old, ambidextrous non-roster invite to the A’s big-league camp, warmed up right-handed between innings, then declared he would pitch left-handed to the switch-hitting Fowler leading off the third.
“It was kind of weird,” said Fowler, who got caught off guard and had to quickly switch out his batting helmet. “You get up there and you’re getting your timing and stuff left-handed and then he switches around.”
Fowler grounded out. Venditte then stayed lefty for Anthony Rizzo, who flied to center. And then Venditte put his glove on the other hand, played catch with second baseman Ben Zobrist for a few throws, then pitched righty to Starlin Castro, who flied to right.
Fowler, who said he’d heard of Venditte being an ambidextrous pitcher but had no idea where he was pitching, only had an issue with the lack of notice he was given for which arm Venditte planned to use.
“I wish he would have done it earlier,” Fowler said, laughing at the strangeness of the whole scene. “That’s the way it should happen. Give a guy enough time to warm up.”