"We've liked Venditte for a long time," general manager Matt Klentak said. "Obviously, there's some intrigue to what he can do, the fact he can throw with both hands. This guy was a pretty good triple-A performer last year, obviously has some big-league time. This organization, the Phillies, we don't have a ton of upper-level left-handed pitching depth."
Venditte was acquired for minor-league outfielder Joey Curletta, who was traded for the second time in six months. The Phillies received Curletta last September as the player to be named in the trade that sent Carlos Ruiz to the Dodgers. The 23-year-old has played just 32 games over Class A in five seasons. He hit 17 homers last year in 106 minor-league games in the Dodgers system.
Major League Baseball instituted a rule before Venditte's debut in 2015 with Oakland, forcing ambidextrous pitchers to indicate what hand they would pitch with before an at-bat. He usually throws righthanded against righthanded hitters and lefthanded against lefthanded hitters. Venditte has a glove that can be worn on either hand. The advantage goes to switch hitters, who are allowed to choose their side of the plate after Venditte indicates his hand.
"I'm curious. The baseball fan in me is curious," Klentak said. "This guy's been pitching like this for a while. Obviously he has an established track record. This is more about the player we think has a chance to be pretty good. It's about results. But yeah, I'm curious just like everybody else."
The Phillies' bullpen appears to have five players locked in: righthanders Joaquin Benoit, Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, Pat Neshek, and Edubray Ramos. That leaves two openings if the Phillies carry, as expected, a seven-man bullpen. Venditte will compete for one of those roles with lefthanders Sean Burnett, Adam Morgan, Cesar Ramos and Joely Rodriguez, and righthander Luis Garcia.
Morgan, Rodriguez, and Garcia are already on the 40-man roster. The Phillies will have to remove someone if they add a non-roster invitee, such as Venditte, to the opening-day roster. Venditte's ability to pitch with both hands could provide enough flexibility to get him on the roster.
"We don't have to construct a bullpen with X number of lefties and Y number of righties. We can do whatever," Klentak said. "Obviously, his ability to pitch with both hands provide any manager, whether it's a major-league manager or triple-A manager, with more options. He comes into major-league camp competing to make the major-league team no matter how you slice it."