Rookie utility man Ryan Flaherty is quickly becoming a very useful asset for the Orioles.
Flaherty, the Orioles' Rule 5 draft pick this offseason. is making his first career start in right field tonight against the Athletics. On a cold, rainy night, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he wants to keep everyday right fielder Nick Markakis, who has caught the flu-like bug going around the Orioles clubhouse, out of the elements on defense. So Markakis will DH tonight.
Fourth outfielder Endy Chavez is also under the weather and battling an intercostal strain, so he's day-to-day.
Flaherty made his first major league start April 15 at Toronto, starting at second base. He made his first start at third Thursday against the Jays and earned his first major league RBI, his first major league hit and ended the night 2-for-3. He also was a defensive substitution at first base earlier this season.
The rookie's flexibility is particularly critical during the chilly April nights, when players are battling sickness. A flu bug has gone around the Orioles clubhouse for nearly two weeks.
"It's for nights like tonight, when you've got people sick and you're trying to figure out a way to keep them as healthy as you can," Showalter said of Flaherty. "We didn't have this last year."
Flaherty, who played six positions this spring – second, third, first, shortstop, left and right -- made six appearances in right field this spring, including three starts. He made 13 appearances in right, including eight starts, at Double-A Nashville last season, making 17 putouts and zero errors.
"I don't think we're far enough down on this to say exactly [whether he can play there]," Showalter said. "There's only one way to find out though. How did you know this guy could play this? Well, we ran him out there. I know his background. He's played all over. I look at the games at different positions. So we know how many he's played in Double-A, Triple-A."