Ryan Flaherty sat at his locker yesterday afternoon, a smile on his face, and talked to a small group of reporters about his favorite NFL team (he's from Maine, so cut him some slack) and how much he looks forward to Sundays in the fall. He asked about the Ravens, another team he roots for, and we agreed that their rivalry with the Steelers is the best in football.
It was a nice, relaxed chat, different from the usual baseball talk or quick exchange of pleasantries, before the clubhouse closed to reporters and Flaherty took the field for batting practice. He was upbeat as usual. Nothing seemed to be wrong.
A few hours later, he was leaving Camden Yards with a 103 degree fever - and leaving manager Buck Showalter with a short bench in a 14-inning game.
I heard that Flaherty had left before the first pitch because he was sick, but I had no idea that the initial diagnosis was tonsillitis and that the Rule 5 pick was expected to go on the disabled list. Talk about taking a turn for the worse. He seemed fine earlier in the day.
The Orioles could backdate the move to Aug. 2, since Flaherty's last appearance came the previous day in New York. And they could add another bullpen arm from Triple-A Norfolk after using everyone except Jim Johnson last night.
Miguel Socolovich is a strong possibility since he's on the 40-man roster and hasn't pitched since Saturday, when he worked 1 2/3 innings scoreless innings. He's been brought up before and could make another quick trip before the Orioles go back to a four-man bench.
Socolovich is 4-0 with a 1.90 ERA in 28 games with the Tides. He's allowed only 33 hits and struck out 52 in 52 innings.
Socolovich has appeared in four games with the Orioles this season and allowed seven runs and eight hits in seven innings. He's served up a home run and walked four batters. Yes, it's quite a jump from Triple-A to the majors.
Anyway, he could get the call, especially since infielder Steve Tolleson is on the minor league disabled list with a broken right index finger and the Orioles could use an extra reliever tonight.
You could argue that the Orioles already have been working with a short bench. Flaherty hasn't started a game since July 23, when he extended his modest hitting streak to four games in Cleveland. He's batted only twice since that day, going 0-for-1 against Tampa Bay on July 25 and striking out on Aug. 1 in New York.
Omar Quintanilla has been getting the majority of starts at second base, and Robert Andino's return from the disabled list pushed Flaherty deeper down the bench.
On an unrelated note, the Orioles are 9-5 when committing two errors in a game, as they did last night. So the next time they botch a routine ground ball or sail a throw to first base, it might be part of their master plan.
Matt Wieters recorded three extra-base hits last night for the first time in his major league career.
Nick Markakis went 4-for-7 and is batting .360 in 25 games as the leadoff hitter.
Nate McLouth stole his first base last night since July 26, 2011.
The Orioles are 1-0 when Flaherty leaves the ballpark before the game.
A strange turn, indeed.