When Orioles rookie Ryan Flaherty made diving plays in right field in consecutive days this week, there was one Pittsburgh Pirate that wasn't surprised. Impressed, but not surprised.
"That goes to show you the kind of player he is," said Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who was a teammate and roommate of Flaherty's at Vanderbilt. "When I played with him, he was our starting shortstop and he never played outfield or any other position. So, in a short period of time, for him to play right field and left field — and the play made [Tuesday] — he just kind of picked it up. So it shows the baseball instincts in him. He is a quick learner and he knows the game."
Alvarez, the second pick in the 2008 draft, was considered one of the best college hitters of the last decade. While with the Commodores, the slugger hit in front of Flaherty, the Orioles' Rule 5 selection last December from the Chicago Cubs.
"If they didn't pitch to me, they would have to pitch to him and, more times than not, he'd make them pay," Alvarez said. "He would hit it gap to gap. He hit the ball a lot to right-center and left-center field. And he made it tough for other teams to pitch around me, because he is that consistent of a hitter. He was good protection behind me."
Alvarez admits he is biased, but thinks the Orioles made a great move by grabbing the 25-year-old Flaherty, who has started at second, third, left and right while hitting .186 in his first 70 at-bats.
"I have all the confidence in the world that he can be an everyday player," said Alvarez, who is batting .191 in his first 53 games and is trying to carve out an everyday role as well.
The duo was recruited the same year and roomed together at Vanderbilt. At times in the offseason, Flaherty lives at Alvarez's home in Nashville.
"He is one of my best friends," Alvarez said. "We are like brothers, and it will be like that for the rest of our lives."