Blue Jays: Pat Venditte has opportunity with Loup injury


Blue Jays switch-pitcher Pat Venditte sees opportunity knocking with a forearm issue potentially forcing Aaron Loup out of action beyond opening day

With spring training comes injuries, and with injuries comes opportunity.

This now rings true for Pat Venditte, who could be next in line to earn a job as Toronto’s second left-hander now that Aaron Loup’s opening day appears to be in doubt while dealing with a forearm (and/or elbow) issue.

Venditte looked strong in one inning of work on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, retiring Josh Bell, Pedro Florimon, and Elias Diaz in order.

Having earned his own small fame for being the only ambidextrous pitcher in baseball, Venditte himself is looking forward to the novelty wearing off once again in his new market.

“I completely understand where it comes from,” Venditte told Sportsnet. “But you’ll see the novelty of it wears off. After a couple weeks in Oakland last year it was forgotten and I was just another guy in the bullpen.”

In the debut with the Athletics, a small sample size of his lefty-on-lefty splits give optimism that he could excel in the role at the major league level.

“He looked good. He’s showed us something,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “It’s a great, a fun story. The key is to get outs and he looks like he can do it.”

Left-handed batters managed a triple-slash of just .116 / .191 / .256, and given the makeup of the current projected bullpen, that niche will be critical.

Brett Cecil remains one of baseball’s more dominant lefties and a true strikeout machine, but his talent is often saved for larger situations. Especially if the young Aaron Sanchez is able to crack the starting rotation, Cecil would be tasked with full-inning duties in the seventh or eighth.

Venditte will not be without competition, however. The younger Chad Girodo has great potential in the role if he proves that he is ready.

Scott Diamond is also in camp throwing from the left side, but his career splits don’t seem to fit the role well at all. Pat McCoy and Wade LeBlanc are also in Dunedin with the major league side.

While Venditte’s switch-pitching is an asset, his ticket to a roster spot remains excelling in one smaller area. Though, in a runaway win or blowout loss, giving a garbage time inning to the right arm of Venditte to save other relievers is a tantalizing (albeit unlikely) option.

Watch for manager John Gibbons to seek out these left-on-left matchups throughout the remainder of camp as a competition begins to open up.