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Yankees' switch-pitcher Venditte handy in ML debut

In this photo combo, New York Yankees pitcher

In this photo combo, New York Yankees pitcher Pat Venditte, left, throws right-handed, and at right, throws left-handed during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves. (March 30, 2010) Credit: AP

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Nick Swisher gathered with some curious teammates as Pat Venditte warmed up with two outs in the fifth inning Tuesday.

"We were talking about it in the outfield saying, how does someone have the ability to do that?" Swisher said. "I mean, what an arsenal."

Venditte, the Yankees' switch-pitcher, made his major league debut against the Braves, relieving CC Sabathia.

Allowed the standard eight warmup pitches, Venditte threw four pitches lefty, shifted his six-fingered glove (which has two pockets) and threw four righty.

Throwing righthanded against righty Yunel Escobar, Venditte opened with a ball, then retired Escobar on a grounder to third.

Venditte struggled a bit with his command in the sixth, allowing a run and two hits with a walk. Still, for the 25-year-old Venditte, a walk-on at Creighton who has yet to pitch above A ball, the outing was hardly a disaster.

And there was the surreal element of relieving a former Cy Young Award winner and pitching to Jorge Posada.

"Coming from a walk-on in college to this, I guess I would have never thought of that," said Venditte, called up from minor league camp at the request of Joe Girardi. "But to have that today it was great and something I'll always remember."

As will most who saw the odd scene. In the sixth Venditte pitched righty against the righthanded hitting Matt Diaz and switched a batter later when lefty Nate McLouth came up. The sixth hitter he faced, the switch-hitting Brooks Conrad, lingered outside the batter's box, not sure what to do.

"The hitter asked , how do I do this?" Posada said. "Mike asked, how are you going to throw?"

As the rule dictates, Venditte, who remembered watching switch-pitcher Greg A. Harris with the Expos on SportsCenter in 1995, declared he would throw righthanded. Conrad went to the left side of the plate and grounding out firmly to first.

Posada said Venditte's arms are not created equal - from the right he throws what Posada called a "big breaking ball," slider and changeup. From the left it's fastball, slider and changeup.

"He's got good stuff, it's just a matter of developing it," Posada said.

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