Two games for the price of two

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are playing the Red Sox today.


Welcome to split-squad city. The Orioles host a 1:05 p.m. game that will air on MASN HD, and head to Fort Myers for a 7:05 p.m. game.

Bud Norris will handle home starting duties and Kevin Gausman will take the bus to JetBlue Park. I’d expect most of the regulars to stay at Ed Smith Stadium.

Ryan Flaherty doesn’t know where he’ll play, and that includes his position.

In the early days of spring training, Orioles manager Buck Showalter indicated that he would keep Flaherty at second base instead of moving him around the infield. Let him focus on one position, where he could be the primary starter in 2014.

Flaherty kept taking ground balls at second while 15-year major league veteran Alex Gonzalez joined Manny Machado for drills at third, but he’s no longer planted in the same spot.

Flaherty has started at second, shortstop and third through the first week of Grapefruit League games. He began yesterday’s game at third, with Jemile Weeks starting at second, and belted a two-run homer off Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett.

He’s never told ahead of time and a schedule hasn’t been mapped out for him.

“I just come in here and look at the lineup,” he said, “and where it says to play, go play.”

Flaherty is capable of serving in a utility role, saying he feels comfortable at any infield position, but the Orioles view him as a potential everyday player.

“Obviously, I took most of my ground balls at second, but just go out there in batting practice and take some grounders and I’m fine,” he said.

The Orioles may need Flaherty at third if Machado isn’t ready on opening day. Otherwise, he’s the early favorite to win the second base job.

Weeks and Jonathan Schoop, who also homered yesterday, are providing stiff competition.

“I haven’t really thought about it too much,” Flaherty said. “We’ll wait and see how it all shakes out. I’m sure it will all work out.”

Ervin Santana must feel the same way now that he’s changed agents and reportedly is seeking a one-year deal so he can re-enter the free agent market next winter.

Could he fall into the Orioles’ laps?

They had interest at three years and around $30 million, according to a source. If Santana is going the Nelson Cruz contract route, they would figure to be in play.

Losing a third-round draft pick isn’t a deterrent. It’s always been about the years and money.

Stay tuned.

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