Pat Venditte's next step in his recovery from right shoulder surgery comes Saturday.
The ambidextrous pitcher, a former Creighton standout from Omaha Central, is scheduled to pitch right-handed in an official game for the second time for the Yankees' rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate.
He said the right arm feels good again after surgery to repair the labrum, a type of cartilage in the shoulder.
He said he “let it go” on Tuesday in his first right-handed outing. “My velocity has come back to where it was before the surgery.”
Next week, an even bigger step is scheduled. For the first time since the surgery, he'll pitch both right- and left-handed, depending on the matchup with a hitter.
So far, including his time pitching for Italy in the World Baseball Classic, Venditte has pitched either left- or right-handed.
“I get to go back to doing what I do,” he said.
Venditte also has something new he's trying, a lower arm slot from the right side, similar to what he's done on his left-handed offerings.
“It's something I've thought about, and then they approached me about trying it,” he said. “I've had some good success left on left, and hopefully I can do the same right on right.”
With the exception of spending about a month away during the World Baseball Classic, Venditte has been at the Yankees' spring training complex in Tampa since early January.
“It's definitely been tough,” the 28-year-old pitcher said. “All the guys who were drafted with me are either no longer in the organization, or they're in the upper levels of the minors or in big leagues. So I'm meeting a lot of new guys.
“It's been a different experience, but I've got to meet a lot of nice people. It could have been a lot worse.”
Theoretically, one benefit of being a switch-pitcher like Venditte is that one arm injury wouldn't necessarily shut you down.
But while he pitched left-handed in the WBC, the Yankees decided to have his right arm at full strength before moving too far forward in his rehabilitation.
“They wanted me to stay at the complex rehabbing every day,” he said.
Venditte said he's pitched in 12 extended spring training games, all left-handed. He was shut down for a couple of weeks because of inflammation but was recently cleared to return.
And he took another step in his comeback Monday, when he pitched a scoreless inning left-handed, when the statistics become part of the permanent record and when the rehabilitation assignment clock starts ticking.
He gave up three hits and three runs — one earned — in one inning as a righty Tuesday, then gave up two runs on two hits in 113 innings Thursday. He's splitting his time playing for each of the Yankees' Gulf Coast League teams, pitching only at the Yankees' complex.
Minor league rehab assignments last 20 days, after which the Yankees will decide where to place him.
Since signing as a 20th round draft pick in 2008, Venditte has gone 14-13 with a 2.32 ERA in the minors. But it was a long, slow climb for him to finally reach Class AAA last year.
He went 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before injuring the labrum in his shoulder, which required surgery June 20, 2012.
“It was definitely a setback. But no part of my journey, from high school to college to pro ball, has been easy,” he said. “So it's another bump in the road, another test … that's kind of the mindset I've had.”