Flaherty on his winter ball experience (O's early promotion schedule)

Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty collected nine hits and one illness during his brief stay in the Dominican Winter League.

Flaherty, who's currently working out in Tampa, batted .209/.306/.233 with one double, three RBIs, six walks and 13 strikeouts in 43 at-bats with Escogido. He returned to the U.S. on Dec. 20 about eight pounds lighter after coming down with a bad case of "water poisoning" during his last few days.

"It was kind of crappy," Flaherty said, no pun intended.

"It's weird. You can't drink the water. They say the water coolers are supposedly treated or whatever, so I don't know if it was something from that or you could be in the shower and open your mouth by accident or you drink coffee and it could be in there. Vegetables could be washed with it. One way or the other. But I put the weight right back on. By New Year's, it was back to regular."

Flaherty, who will attend this weekend's FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center, mostly played right field for Escogido. The original plan called for him to get most of his innings at second base.

"The roster had 15 infielders and four outfielders," Flaherty said. "The manager pretty much came up to me the first day there and said, 'I saw you played the outfield. Do you mind going out there and playing?' I said I'd do it and I was there for three weeks. Whatever helps. I ended up in right field pretty much every day. It was interesting, to say the least.

"This was my first time playing winter ball. It was a good experience, for sure. I think anytime you can play, you can get better and learn some things. There are some things I wish I had done better, obviously. I didn't have that many at-bats. But overall, it was a good experience and I got to see more pitching and get more at-bats, stuff like that. It was good."

Flaherty made it through his rookie season as a Rule 5 pick without being exposed to waivers or offered back to the Chicago Cubs. He has three minor league options and no guarantees that he's going to remain on the roster. He has a chance to be the starting second baseman if Brian Roberts doesn't hold up physically, or he could be a utility player.

"I don't know," he said. "I kind of look at it like it was last year and probably will be any year. I'll go in there and do what I can do, like last year, and whatever else happens happens. I can control what I can control.

"I'll go in and make sure I'm ready on Feb. 15 and try to help the team win, however that is. I don't know. I'll just make sure I'm ready to go on Feb. 15."

He already made a solid impression on Buck Showalter last season, and nothing that happened this winter has changed the manager's mind.

"Flaherty had a great offseason," Showalter said. "He showed me something. He went to winter ball, got some at-bats. And for an American guy to go down there, you better take it seriously, because they do. And he took it seriously. For them to like him the way they liked him ...

"I was impressed that Ryan went down there. It's going to be a competitive spring."

Shameless plug alert: I'm back on "The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" today from 5-7 p.m. on MASN.

Note: The Orioles have announced their 2013 early bird promotions schedule, which includes an Adam Jones replica away jersey giveaway to the first 15,000 fans 15 years and older who attend the July 13 game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

There's also a 1983 world champions floppy hat giveaway for the first 20,000 fans 21 years and older who attend the July 12 game against Toronto, and an Orioles batting practice cap giveaway on July 14 for the first 20,000 fans 15 and over.

The Orioles also confirmed the return of the AT&T Fans' Choice Bobblehead on Sept. 29, and they'll have three T-shirt nights and four post-game fireworks displays.

New promotions include a men's travel kit (June 16 vs. Boston), a beach towel (June 27 vs. Cleveland) and ear buds (Aug. 25 vs. Oakland).

Every Tuesday is Ollie's Bargain Night, featuring $9 upper reserve tickets when purchased in advance. Every Friday is Student Night presented by AT&T, featuring $6 left field upper reserve tickets with valid student identification.

To purchase tickets, or for more information, call 1-888-848-BIRD or visit www.orioles.com. Additional promotions will be added as the season progresses.

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