The ol' switcheroo

Abbott and Costello would have loved Pat Venditte.

The comedy duo would have been proud to script the five-plus minute scene that occurred Thursday night in the ninth inning of the game between the Class A Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Venditte made his professional debut with Staten Island, less than two weeks after he was drafted by the Yankees in the 20th round. He pitched the ninth, and after retiring two batters and allowing a single, a switch hitter stepped to the plate.

That's hardly unusual. But it becomes intriguing against Venditte, a switch pitcher.

Things got a tad dizzying when designated hitter Ralph Henriquez, who had taken his on-deck circle swings as a lefty, entered the batter's box from the right side.

Venditte put his specially made glove (it has six fingers, two webs and fits on both hands) on his left hand, and got ready to pitch right-handed.

Henriquez then changed his mind and switched sides of the plate, because a batter sees the ball sooner when it is thrown by a pitcher using the opposite hand.

So Venditte shifted his glove to the other hand.

Then it happened again.

And again.

And again.

Apparently unsure of how the rules handle such an oddity, the umpires didn't stop the cat-and-mouse game until Venditte walked toward the plate and said something while pointing at Henriquez. Umpires and both managers then huddled and the umps decided the batter and pitcher can both change sides one time per at-bat, and that the batter must declare first.

The ruling favored the pitcher, since he gets to declare last.

About seven minutes after he first stepped in, Henriquez struck out on four pitches as a righty against a right-handed Venditte and slammed his bat in frustration. Staten Island won, 7-2.

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Any fries with that?

After their Hall of Fame exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs was rained out Monday in Cooperstown, N.Y., the San Diego Padres boarded buses and headed for New York City and an interleague series against the Yankees.

Well, it's a long drive from upstate New York to the Big Apple and the boys got hungry. So did their kids, since many brought along families for the trip.

So, in the booming metropolis of Cobleskill, N.Y., about 190 miles north of Manhattan, pitcher Jake Peavy suggested a stop at McDonald's. Imagine the surprise of the one young fellow working the front counter when three busloads of players and families pulled in with Big Macs on their minds.

"We had to triple their usual business," said Peavy. "I haven't been to a McDonald's in a few years but it was good. I even had me a McFlurry."