This week, I caught up with Orioles second baseman Ryan Flaherty. I asked him about his time at Class-AAA Norfolk, playing primarily second base, how he got his nickname and about his Larry Bird socks.
Q: When you got sent down to Norfolk earlier in the season, did it feel like it gave you a chance to work on some things you needed to?
RF: Yeah, it was good just to go down there and try to work on some things and just try to take that back up here and try to help this team win games.
Q: How nice was it to get a pair of hits, including an RBI double, in your first game back with the Orioles?
RF: Obviously, it's nice. I think the thing you're looking for as a player is consistency. It was nice to come back and help the team right away, but at the same time you're looking for that consistency day in and day out.
Q: Manager Buck Showalter has been complimentary of your defense. Do you feel like you've gotten better over the past year?
RF: I think it's something I'm always trying to work on. It's important for sure. If you're not going to be producing offensively, you've got to be producing defensively. It's nice to get them both going, but at the same time, defense is important to winning.
Q: How much does playing solid defense help keep your mind off an offensive slump?
RF: It's nice. Defense helps win games.Q: Has it helped you to focus on just second base this year, as opposed to playing all over the field last year?
RF: Yes and no. I feel pretty comfortable moving around and stuff, it's just needs, and I've played mostly second this year. I still feel comfortable moving around and doing that.
Q: How much fun have you had with this team, making a playoff run last season and to be competing again this year?
RF: It's a great group of guys, great clubhouse, and I think that shows with the success we've had last year and this year. But it's a long season and you're just trying to grind it out, win games, and win as many as we can.
Q: How much has former Orioles infielder Mike Bordick, who also hails from Maine like yourself, helped you with your career?
RF: A ton. I think growing up, coming from Maine, every kid idolizes Mike Bordick, especially being an infielder too, and then getting a chance to work with him. He's definitely helped me a ton turning double plays, everything. Also, just off-the-field stuff, on-the-field, hitting, he's just a good guy, good ear to talk to and to listen to.
Q: Is Boston your favorite road trip to make, considering how close it is to your hometown?
RF: It's nice, it's close to my family and friends and they get a chance to see me play. I went away to college and really they never got a chance to see me play, so when I go home it's nice they can come and watch, and that's always nice. ... It can be a little hectic sometimes, a lot of family and friends want to come watch. But it's nice to see my family and close friends.
Q: How did you get the nickname "Flash?"
RF: It's not because I'm fast. When I was a kid growing up, people used to call me Flats. And then somewhere from there it went to Flash, and it just stuck.
Q: I see you have some Larry Bird socks hanging in your locker, are you a big Celtics Fan?
RF: Actually, Ronnie Deck, one of the bullpen catchers, bought them for me when we were up in New York. It's kind of a joke gift. I haven't worn them yet, but they're in there. ... I grew up a Celtics fan, that was the basketball team to root for up there.