Utility man Ryan Flaherty will be fighting for one of the last remaining Baltimore Orioles roster spots this spring. However, his unique skill set could very well give him an advantage over the other players in camp to be a member of the 25-man roster.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has a pretty good idea of what his starting lineup is going to look like on Opening Day, but there are still some reserve roles that need to be filled. One position in particular that will need a backup is first base, where five players will look to land the role behind starter Chris Davis.
Flaherty appeared in the majors for the first time last season in which he batted .216 with six home runs, 19 RBI, two doubles, one triple and six walks in 153 at-bats. The left-handed batter had a couple of career milestones, including hitting a grand slam against the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 28 when Baltimore was still trying to clinch a postseason berth. He also belted a home run in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. His successful playoff performance (.273 batting average) is one reason why the Orioles must consider him for a reserve role.
What is the other huge advantage the 26-year-old has over his fellow competitors? Flaherty is capable of playing six different positions defensively. He appeared in three games at first base, 28 games at second, 17 games at third, one game at shortstop, 17 games in right field and seven games in left field last season. His fielding percentages were all good, especially at second base where he committed only one error in 93 total chances and had zero mistakes at third base as well as in right field.
“Flaherty is going to make it [tough],” Showalter said. “You can tell he’s a little different look to him this spring. After getting through last year, he’s not feeling his way around anymore. He’s a real confident guy. He thinks he can do this and help us. I think he might be right.”
I would be absolutely shocked if Flaherty was not sitting in Baltimore’s dugout on Opening Day considering what he brings to the table.