Flaherty rules among utility candidates

SARASOTA, Fla. - Ryan Flaherty doesn't show much emotion. He's about as low-key as they come in the Orioles' clubhouse. But he clearly was moved by today's news that he had made the team as a Rule 5 pick.

Manager Buck Showalter informed Flaherty earlier today that the Maine native won the utility job.

"They told me I was going to make the team, so it's pretty special to get told that," he said.

"It was good. It was in front of the team. He said, 'Obviously, you've got a few days left, anything can happen,' but it was pretty special. It felt good. It was a moment you wait a long time to get told that. So just finish up these last few days and finish strong."

Flaherty never allowed himself to assume that he won a spot despite his impressive spring and the removal of infielders Steve Tolleson and Matt Antonelli from the camp roster.

"Yeah, I think I was really on edge," he said. "You know, I've always played better when I feel like I have something to prove, stuff like that. So I feel like, especially being a Rule 5 pick, you know your job is never safe. You're just taking every day like that and just taking every day one day at a time."

Flaherty is batting .232 with one homer and 10 RBIs. He's played third base, shortstop, second and first, and both corner outfield positions.

"It's been great," he said. "It's been a great spring. I know that for sure. You go from being left unprotected to being taken by a team all the way up to this point. To be able to play in the big leagues has been a dream since I was a kid. so it's just a special moment for sure.

"Coming up and growing up in Maine, I think you're always having doubting people. People say, 'Oh, you aren't going to make it'. So you have to play with a chip on your shoulder."

Former Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick rushed over and shook Flaherty's hand - one Maine native congratulating another for beating the odds.

"That means a lot, especially coming from him," Flaherty said. "I think he's the only position player to make it from the whole state of Maine to play in the big leagues, so having him here, it means a little more."

Flaherty texted his father, Ed, the longtime baseball coach at Southern Maine, with the news before rushing outside for batting practice. He called after returning to the clubhouse.

As for tonight's game, Jim Johnson struck out two of the three Florida Southern batters that he faced and induced a ground ball. He threw nine pitches, seven for strikes. His fastball was 90-92 mph on the stadium scoreboard.

It always seems a little lower here.

J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis hit three-run homers off Jake Guengerich in the first inning, and Matt Wieters drove in a run with a single. The Orioles lead, 7-0, and there's still nobody out.

Florida Southern third baseman Mike Snyder is the brother of former Orioles first-round pick Brandon Snyder.

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