Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he hopes that getting second baseman Ryan Flaherty consistent at-bats at Triple-A Norfolk — while getting the 26-year-old to work on offensive problems away from the major league spotlight — will help him rebound from a tough start to the season.
Flaherty, who has held most of the starting second baseman duties since Brian Roberts was injured in the third game of the season, was hitting just .133/.228/.233 in 30 games before he was optioned to the Tides on Saturday night.
"Last year, he was a Rule 5 guy and the circumstances were different," Showalter said. "We got him through the year and he was contributor from last year, and I think [he] will be again. But he needs to go get his legs back under him, offensively, his confidence, everything."
Flaherty made tremendous strides defensively — on Sunday, he was third in the American League in total zone runs at second base (three) and fourth in double plays turned at second (24) — but frustration began to mount at the plate. He opened the season in an 0-for-17 slump and never rebounded.
"[It's] probably the first time in his offensive career that he feels that frustrated with the way things are going for him," Showalter said. "He's better than that. We saw it this spring, we saw it at times here this year. You know what happens is it snowballs, he has a good game and the next day hits two line drives at somebody and you start getting that mentality of, 'Geez, what's going to happen next?' How do you change that? I'm hoping this helps him."
Showalter said the organization hopes playing every day at Norfolk — he could play a variety of positions there — for a Tides team that entered Sunday with the fourth-best record in the minors (29-14) and had won 18 of its past 23 games will help Flaherty.
"I talked to [Norfolk manager Ron Johnson] about it and they will be perfect for him for what he needs, because they are certainly not going to let him feel sorry for himself down there — in a good way," Showalter said. "It's a very upbeat, positive atmosphere."
Starters set for Yankees
Showalter said right-hander Freddy Garcia will start Monday's series opener against the Yankees. There was a possibility that right-hander Jake Arrieta could make that start, but Showalter will go with Garcia, who has allowed eight runs over his past two starts.
Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a thumb blister, said he was told he will fill the team's starting rotation hole Tuesday. He will be activated before Tuesday's game.
Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA in three regular-season starts against the Yankees and held New York to one run over seven innings in Game 3 of last year's AL Division Series.
Jason Hammel will likely start Wednesday's series finale on regular rest.
Around the horn
J.J. Hardy was hitless in four at-bats Sunday, snapping his 13-game hit streak. … Showalter said he was tempted to play catcher Matt Wieters, who is 6-for-11 against Moore, at DH, but decided he wanted to give Wieters rest. Chris Snyder started at catcher. … Roberts (right hamstring) is getting his surgery stitches removed Monday. Catcher Taylor Teagarden, who had the splint from his left thumb removed, will begin a catching and hitting progression Monday. DH Wilson Betemit (PCL tear) is jogging in the pool. … Orioles pitchers began practicing bunting Sunday in anticipation of their first interleague game in an NL park Monday in Washington. … More than 14,000 fans attended Sunday's game as part of the team's second Little League day of the season.
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