BOSTON — Buck Showalter has been around baseball long enough to know that there are many ways to determine a player’s value to his club.

The Baltimore Orioles manager uses Portland native Ryan Flaherty as a perfect example.

“Anybody who doesn’t get what Ryan brings just isn’t watching,” said Showalter before Wednesday night’s game at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. “He is very consistent, you know what you’re going to get every day.

“He’s always trying to get better. We’re lucky to have him. He makes this team better by the things he can do.”

Flaherty, 28, is the Orioles’ starting second baseman these days. Since coming off the disabled list on May 27 – following his second stint on the DL because of a groin injury – Flaherty has appeared in every game but one.

Always a fundamentally sound defensive player, he is now making bigger contributions as a hitter in his fourth year with the Orioles. His father, University of Southern Maine baseball coach Ed Flaherty, was in attendance Wednesday and Thursday along with his wife, Debbie, and said he noticed his son had changed his batting stance – something only a father/coach might see.

“He tinkered his stance,” said Ed Flaherty while waiting outside the Orioles’ clubhouse after Wednesday’s game. “He lowered his bat so that he’s less susceptible to the off-speed pitch.”

The change seems to have worked. Flaherty is hitting .250 – 26 points higher than his career average. And after hitting a sacrifice fly in Thursday’s 8-6 win over the Red Sox, he has 13 RBI in 23 games in June.

“He’s always done good things and it’s not always statistics either,” said Showalter. “He’s always engaged in the competition. He’s just a baseball player. That’s the highest compliment I can give anyone.”

Speaking Wednesday night, Flaherty said he is simply maturing as a player.

“I’m 28 now, not 24 or whatever I was when I started,” he said. “I think just being around the game a lot, you learn a lot. At this level you get to watch a lot of different guys, a lot of different professionals and see how they go about their business. And I’m just more mature, I guess. It’s a work in process and I’m still learning.”

Flaherty, a 2005 Deering High graduate, went on the disabled list in late April. He returned in early May, but in his fourth game back he reinjured the groin and was forced back to the disabled list.

“It’s just one of those things,” said Flaherty. “It was the first time I’ve ever been injured in any sport and it just happened again. I don’t know why, it just did.”

Showalter thinks it had something to do with Flaherty’s unfamiliarity with injuries. “The biggest thing is he didn’t know how to play with an injury,” said Showalter. “You know how an animal sometimes will be walking and get something in its paw? And instead of walking with it, they just stop and hold it in the air until somebody takes it out.

“With Ryan, I’d say, ‘What do you think?’ And he’d say, ‘I don’t know, I got nothing to compare it with.'”

Flaherty got a chance to return home Monday on the team’s day off in Boston. His brother, Regan, and sister, Regina, joined their parents at the game Wednesday night.

He once again played well against the Red Sox, getting two hits off Clay Buchholz – one an opposite-field double on an off-speed pitch – making him 7 for 17 in his career against Buchholz.

“I don’t know,” Flaherty said when asked about his success at Fenway. “A lot of people ask me that. I get a lot of family and friends who come here and you always like to play well in front of them.”

Beyond that, said Ed Flaherty, the increased playing time is simply making Ryan a better player.

“He’s getting more confident,” said Ed Flaherty. “And you can see that.”