By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
10:01 PM EDT, April 2, 2012
SARASOTA, Fla. — It seemed apparent for a week, after Ryan Flaherty's competition for the Orioles' utility infielder spot departed camp, but on Monday, it became official.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Flaherty, the Orioles' Rule 5 Draft pick this offseason, in front of the team that he was making the club's Opening Day roster.
"It's been great, it's been a great spring I know that for sure," Flaherty said. "And [it's been] a lot, you go from being left unprotected to being taken by a team all the way up to this point. ... To be able to play in the big leagues has been a dream since I was a kid.
"It's definitely an emotional moment. But your whole life you wait for that moment. Yeah, I'm excited. I'm real excited for it."
As a Rule 5 pick, Flaherty must remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season or else he would be offered back to the Cubs, the team the Orioles selected him from in December.
Flaherty, the Cubs' first-round pick in 2008 out of Vanderbilt, won a spot on the team with his flexibility. He played six positions this spring — shortstop, third base, second base, first base, left field and right field.
"Coming up and growing up in Maine, I think you're always having to [deal with] doubt[ing] people, people say, 'Oh you aren't going to make it'," he said. "So, you have to play with your chip on your shoulder."
Flaherty was congratulated in the clubhouse by former Orioles shortstop and special instructor Mike Bordick, who is also from Maine.
"That means a lot, especially coming from him," Flaherty said. "I think he's the only position player to make it from the whole state of Maine to play in the big leagues. So having him here it means a little more."
Flaherty hit .232 with a home run and 10 RBIs this spring.
College exhibitions offer challenges
Showalter said his starters would play five innings in each of the final two games here, Monday against Division II Florida Southern and Tuesday against State College of Florida, a junior college.
"I want to keep them playing and on a routine," Showalter said. "We have a lot of extended spring guys to pick up there. I think you do have a responsibility to the people who come into the stadiums. I'm not sure about ticket sales in Norfolk, but you want to put on a good front. I told the players, it's kind of like the last month of the season. There's an integrity to playing a game and the presentation you need to make."
The Orioles had to improvise Monday against the Moccasins. The first seven Baltimore batters to come to the plate scored, including three-run homers by J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis. To move the game along, the Orioles didn't bat in the following odd-numbered innings until the ninth.
Nolan Reimold also hit a two-run homer in the Orioles' 14-1 win.
The Orioles will provide pitching for both teams Tuesday against the Manatees, with right-hander Jason Hammel starting for the Orioles and left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada starting for the State College of Florida team.
Around the horn
Showalter said Hammel will be the Orioles No. 3 starter, pitching Sunday against the Twins. … Right-handed reliever Jim Johnson made his final spring outing, a perfect first inning. He will be away from the team for the next 48 hours to be with his wife, Elizabeth, as doctors induce labor on Tuesday. Johnson said he hasn't been told yet whether he's won the closer job … Showalter said right-hander reliever Matt Lindstrom (hamstring) came out of his minor-league outing without any setbacks. "It looks like he's going to be alright," Showalter said.
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