Ryan Flaherty is often a whipping boy for fans because he has not hit much in his Orioles career. But the guy has some serviceable skills -- primarily he can play every infield position adeptly – and that’s huge when injuries crop up.
So with Jonathan Schoop and Everth Cabrera on the disabled list, a healthy Flaherty was pretty important to this roster. He could move around wherever needed and start at second base for the time being.
He’s also a pretty tough guy; he’s been durable for most of his career.
So seeing him hobble off the field Monday with a re-aggravation of the right groin injury that cost him 15 days already this season is not a good sign for the Orioles.
Flaherty is hoping to avoid the disabled list again; he gets an MRI on Tuesday. But if he can’t play Tuesday, the Orioles don’t have the luxury of waiting for him due to the lack of infielders on this roster. In fact, the best defensive second baseman they have right now – besides Flaherty – is Steve Pearce, who had never played the position as a pro before last week.
The best guess is that Rey Navarro joins the Orioles on Tuesday if Flaherty goes to the DL. Navarro, who was sent to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday when Flaherty was activated, is eligible to return within 10 days of being demoted only if he is replacing a DL’d player.
Pearce has been respectable at second base and Jimmy Paredes is an emergency option, but the Orioles can’t have that situation linger for very long.
** Ubaldo Jimenez is continuing to rebound. After his shortest outing of the season (not including the one in which he was strangely ejected) last time out, Jimenez pitched seven impressive innings on Monday against the Blue Jays. He’s now allowed just six runs in 19 innings against Toronto so far this year – and that’s a pretty good hitting club.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is impressed.
“He looks great,” Gibbons said. “He's living on the corners with a lot of movement, and he's pounding strikes. He was great again.”
** Caleb Joseph had a clutch at-bat in the sixth that gave the Orioles a needed insurance run. With the bases loaded, Joseph fell behind 0-2 to Steve Delabar. The way the Orioles have been striking out this year, the outcome looked pretty obvious.
But Joseph battled back to a 3-2 count – taking a pitch that was just off the plate for the third ball. He then hit a sacrifice fly to plate the club’s fourth run.
It wasn’t a sexy outcome, but it was a productive one. And that’s what often wins games.
“That's Caleb. I know our guys were frustrated by the strikeouts and we talked about it a little today and I think that was something that we haven't been getting and we need to do better,” Showalter said. “And tonight we had a lot of good at-bats in that situation.”
** The announced crowd was 20,468 – so the stadium was more than half empty. But the crowd was into the game. Great to see, of course, after what has transpired over the last couple weeks here.