If Pat Venditte makes baseball history next season by becoming the first player to be promoted to the big leagues as a switch pitcher, it won't be in pinstripes.
The ambidextrous pitcher, a Yankees farmhand since 2008, on Wednesday signed a minor-league contract with the Oakland A's with an invite to spring training.
Venditte, who chooses which arm he throws with depending on the hitter, made it as high as Triple-A with the Yankees as recently as last summer, but he never got the phone call that every minor-leaguer dreams of.
A free agent this offseason for the first time in his career, Venditte said he was looking for an organization that would give him a spring training invite, something he never had in six preseasons with the Yankees. And while he knows the odds are against him breaking camp with the A's, he believes he is one step closer to the majors.
"Any time they bring a guy in on a minor-league deal, it's extremely difficult to be on the Opening Day roster," Venditte said by phone. "But I wouldn't be human if that wasn't in the back of my mind."
Venditte also was attracted to Oakland because of the organization's reputation for being independent thinkers, most notably playing a leading role a decade ago in bringing advanced statistics into front offices. It only makes sense that they, of all teams, would take a flier on a 29-year-old switch pitcher.
"Because I do something that's different than anybody else," he said, "I wanted to be in a spot where I'm judged purely on performance, not on how you do it. I think they'll look past that as long as I hold up my end of the deal and perform well."
Last year Venditte had a 2.64 ERA in 781/3 innings in Double-A and Triple-A. He said he doesn't harbor ill feelings toward the Yankees for not calling him up when they needed a pitcher because they stuck with him after he tore the labrum in his right shoulder in 2012.