Second baseman Ryan Flaherty was called into manager Buck Showalter’s office after last night’s game and given the news. To break out of his season-long slump, he would need to go back down to the minors.
Flaherty wasn’t exactly floored by the Orioles’ decision to option him to Triple-A Norfolk. He was batting .133/.228/.233 with two homers and six RBIs in 30 games. He had 26 strikeouts in 90 at-bats. He had run out of chances.
“It was obvious that I was kind of struggling and it could possibly happen,” Flaherty said during a phone conversation. “I’ll just go down and work on things and try to get back and help the team.
“I talked to Buck a little bit about it. I’ll go down there and play every day and get to swinging the bat again and work at it and come back and help this team. At this point, that’s all I can do.”
Flaherty will report to Norfolk on Tuesday. The Tides are in Durham later today and are off Monday.
Last year, Flaherty batted .216/.258/.359 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 77 games. He homered in the American League Division Series.
Because of his Rule 5 status, Flaherty couldn’t be optioned without passing through waivers and being offered back to the Chicago Cubs. He played in nine games with Norfolk in August while on an injury-rehab assignment, though his ailment was a bacterial infection.
With each failed at-bat this season, the possibility grew that Flaherty would be going down.
“Obviously, it’s there when you’re struggling,” said Flaherty, who heard some boos Wednesday after striking out three times and losing a pop up in the sun. “You try to come out of it each day and it’s tough. I tried to work through it and help the team, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to produce and I’ve got do a better job than what I was doing.”
Flaherty can’t pinpoint why he struggled so badly at the plate after winning a utility job in spring training and getting the bulk of the starts at second place once Brian Roberts went on the disabled list.
“I think if I had an exact answer, maybe I wouldn’t be having this problem,” he said. “Sometimes, it happens with hitters. There are always things you can work on with (hitting coach) Jim Presley, and I’m trying to work on things. It just didn’t happen. I couldn’t come out of it right away.
“I’ll go down there and get back to working on fundamentals and stuff and produce again and have good at-bats.”
While Flaherty waits to join the Tides, Danny Valencia could be in the lineup Sunday against Rays left-hander Matt Moore. Showalter may use him as the designated hitter.
Valencia, who will officially be recalled today, is 1-for-3 against Moore. Small sample size, but a pretty big opportunity for him.
Flaherty’s slump was the primary reason for his demotion, but the Orioles also wanted to add a right-handed bat, and Valencia has been swinging a hot one with Norfolk. And Showalter will continue to evaluate Yamaico Navarro at second base.