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Orioles option Ryan Flaherty to Triple-A Norfolk to make roster space for Kevin Gausman

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Ryan Flaherty (3) uses a towel to cover up as he stands with the rest of the team beneath the dugout sheltering from a heaven rain in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against he Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Port Charlotte, Fla. Flaherty was optioned to the minors on April 25.
Baltimore Orioles second baseman Ryan Flaherty (3) uses a towel to cover up as he stands with the rest of the team beneath the dugout sheltering from a heaven rain in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against he Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Port Charlotte, Fla. Flaherty was optioned to the minors on April 25. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)

The Orioles made a surprise roster move before Monday's series opener in Tampa Bay, optioning utility man Ryan Flaherty to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for right-hander Kevin Gausman, who was activated from the disabled list to start Monday's game.

The club was expected to option a pitcher, but will instead play with a short three-man bench without their most versatile reserve player.

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Flaherty has made just one start over the past two weeks -- he started at third base on Sunday in Kansas City when shortstop J.J. Hardy was given an off day and Manny Machado filled in at shortstop -- but his ability to play every infield spot and both corner outfield spots makes him a valuable asset.

Flaherty has two hits in 10 at-bats this season.

With Flaherty's absence, the Orioles have back-up scenarios set at most positions, but there is now no player with experience at second base behind starter Jonathan Schoop.

Creating a roster spot for Gausman, who opened the season on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, was arguably their most difficult move in the first month of the season, and the club considered various options

Right-handers Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright could both be optioned, but sending either one of them down would have created a hole in the starting rotation. Vance Worley could have filled that spot, but it would have left the Orioles without long relief depth other than left-hander T.J. McFarland.

In the bullpen, McFarland and right-hander Mychal Givens also have minor league options remaining.

Showalter said following Sunday's series finale in Kansas City that he wasn't going to use four different relievers, which indicated there are some lingering physical issues in the bullpen, so that makes it difficult for the Orioles to take away from the relief corps.

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