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KBO introduces new rule on ambidextrous ‘switch’ pitchers

March 5, 2015
Choi Woo-seok of the Hanwha Eagles throws with both hands in the bullpen during the team's spring training in Japan on Feb. 27, 2015. (Yonhap file photo)

Choi Woo-seok of the Hanwha Eagles throws with both hands in the bullpen during the team’s spring training in Japan on Feb. 27, 2015. (Yonhap file photo)

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) — The nation’s top pro baseball league on Thursday created a new rule guiding pitchers able to throw with both arms, prompted by the emergence of an ambidextrous hurler during spring training.

At its rules committee meeting, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) adopted a new clause for the 2015 season for switch pitchers. The KBO determined that such a pitcher must “clearly indicate to the home plate umpire, the hitter and the base runners” which hand he will use to throw by “wearing his glove on the opposite hand while touching the pitcher’s plate.”

Choi Woo-seok, listed as a right-hander for the Hanwha Eagles, threw with both arms during the team’s training camp last month in Japan. He uses a custom-made, six-fingered glove with two holes for both thumbs.

Choi’s manager, Kim Sung-keun, had the pitcher throw with both arms. Choi hit 145 kilometers per hour (90 miles per hour) as a right-hander and reached 135 kilometers per hour (84 miles per hour) as a southpaw.

The KBO determined that an ambidextrous pitcher may not switch hands during an at-bat. In case of an injury to one arm or hand, the pitcher may start using his other arm. In this scenario, the pitcher won’t be allowed to go back to the arm he’d used first.

In addition, should the switcher pitcher change his arms during an inning, he will not be allowed to throw warm-up pitches.

Choi has four KBO games to his credit, all of them from the 2012 season, with no win-loss record. Should he make the team this season, Choi will be the first-ever switch pitcher in the league’s history.

In Major League Baseball (MLB), Pat Venditte is trying to make the Oakland Athletics’ staff. While the former New York Yankees draftee was in the minors, a rule was created for ambidextrous pitchers, commonly known as the “Pat Venditte Rule.”

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