Orioles utility infielder Ryan Flaherty understands his primary value has been the defensive versatility that allows him to play well at just about every position.
But he also knows that contributing on offense is something that is expected of any major leaguer, so his recent slump isn't easily dismissed.
"Everyone wants to hit at the end of the day," Flaherty said. "I've taken pride that I can move around in the field. You do that. But in the end of the day, everyone wants to hit, too. So you keep grinding at it and work through it."
With a strikeout Sunday in the Orioles' 18-2 blowout of the Oakland Athletics, Flaherty's hitless streak grew to 34 at-bats. That surpassed the 0-for-33 skid that Cal Ripken Jr., endured in the last two weeks of his career in 2001.
According to baseball historian Dave Smith of Retrosheet.org, the record for consecutive hitless at-bats by an Oriole position player is 41 by shortstop Willy Miranda in August 1956. The second longest was by catcher Gus Triandos (35 hitless at-bats) in 1962. Right-handed pitcher Milt Pappas holds the record for all Orioles, including pitchers, with 47 hitless at-bats in 1965, his last season with the club before being dealt to the Cincinnati Reds for Frank Robinson.
Flaherty's last hit was a first-inning single against Tampa Bay's Chris Archer on July 24 at Tropicana Field.
A career .218 hitter in parts of four major league seasons, Flaherty has dealt with rough spots over the years. He began the 2013 and 2014 seasons hitless in his first 17 at-bats. This slump, though, has been twice as long.
"My main focus really isn't on that. It's trying to help the team win," Flaherty said. "And we've been winning lately. So I'm trying to do that. But 0-for-whatever-it-is, I don't think anybody wants to do that."
Flaherty is trying to mix things up a little. He has shaved his head and is working with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh continually.
"You try to stay as even keel as possible," Flaherty said. "I mean, you try to change some things with [Coolbaugh] and just working on trying something. You keep grinding. It's all you can do."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he's plenty aware of Flaherty's struggles, but also believes Flaherty is mentally strong enough to bounce back, as he has in the past.
"A month or two ago or whatever, he was hitting .250 or whatever, and there was some clamoring for him to play more. I think he knows what we think of him," Showalter said. "You've got to be pretty strong mentally and emotionally to get through things like that. He's got a good support group around him and he'll be a good hitter for us again."
Showalter said he was hoping Flaherty would join in on Sunday's hit parade against the A's when the Orioles tied a franchise record with 26 hits. But, Showalter said, Oakland reliever Evan Scribner threw some nasty pitches to Flaherty, who struck out.
"It seems like every time a guy is making the tough pitch on him," Showalter said. "They [were] making a lot of mistakes [Sunday] and he comes up there and they paint him [on the corners of the plate] three times. … When it rains it pours."
Around the horn
Minor league right-handed pitcher Parker Bridwell (right elbow) had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his balky elbow, Showalter said, but he does not have structural damage. … Minor league right-hander Dylan Bundy (right shoulder) will be re-evaluated on Aug. 31 by Dr. James Andrews. Showalter is hopeful Bundy will receive the OK to begin throwing again. Minor league right-hander Hunter Harvey (flexor mass) threw a 25-pitch side session Monday. He could pitch in instructional league in September. … Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Chris Jones has been named International League Pitcher of the Week, the second time he received the honor this season. Jones, 26, won both of his starts for Triple-A Norfolk this past week, allowing just two runs in 15 innings. That includes eight scoreless innings against Louisville on Saturday. He is 8-6 with a 2.86 ERA, fifth best in the league. … Prior to Monday's game, the Orioles recognized all of the New York-Penn League All Stars with on-field introductions. The All-Star Game is Tuesday at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.