Wednesday, March 12, 2014
(Continued from page 1)
Since returning to the Orioles from the minor leagues in late May, Deering High grad Ryan Flaherty has rebounded from a hitting slump and has a .300 average in his last 29 games.
2013 file photo/The Associated Press
Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty spends time at his parents’ house in Portland during baseball’s All-Star break.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
"This is Major League Baseball," said D'Andrea, who played in the Atlanta Braves organization. "It isn't college. It isn't Legion. It isn't high school. This is Major League Baseball and it's OK to get into a slump.
"When I hear people say Ryan can't hit, I just laugh," he said. "That's the one thing he can do."
Flaherty also knows how to win. His teams won two Class A state baseball championships at Deering, along with a football title. He played on an American Legion national championship team -- Nova Seafood. He spent three years with one of the nation's top college programs -- Vanderbilt.
Flaherty said his time growing up in Portland, especially playing for D'Andrea, "taught me how to compete, taught me how to win."
Flaherty and South Portland's Charlie Furbush, a relief pitcher with the Seattle Mariners, are the only two Mainers in the majors. For a while, there were three when relief pitcher Ryan Reid, a teammate of Flaherty with Deering and Nova Seafood, was called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 2.
Reid was sent back to Triple-A on July 7 despite pitching well for the Pirates, with a 1.64 earned run average and one save in seven games.
"It was pretty special to have him up in the majors," said Flaherty. "And there's not a guy who was more deserving. He worked hard for this."
D'Andrea said Flaherty and Reid have earned their spots by continuing to push themselves.
"Truthfully, there are a lot of players who can go out and hit and throw and perform, but can they do it when it counts?" he said. "Can they do it in big games? Day-in, day-out through a long season? Can they will their teammates to do that? That's what those two did.
"They're special people and special players and we're all fortunate to have been part of their careers at any point," D'Andrea said.
Flaherty spoke to Reid after he got sent down. He tries to keep in touch with many of his Portland friends. He also speaks to his father frequently, though the conversations these days tend to be more personal and less about baseball.
"We may talk about a game," said Ed Flaherty, "but I never tell him what he should be doing. That's what his coaches are for. I don't coach at the major league level."
Like any parent, Ed Flaherty wants to see his son succeed. Being a baseball coach, he knows how hard that is.
"The one thing I've said to Ryan is that you don't want to be in the pack," said Ed Flaherty. "You want to be like (21-year-old All-Star third baseman) Manny Machado. You want it so that there is no indecision as to whether you're going to be in the lineup or not."
Flaherty knows what it will take to get to that level. After all, being from Maine, he's had to prove himself at every level.
"When I was growing up, I'd tell my teachers and parents that I wanted to play Major League Baseball, and they'd tell me to go for it but be realistic, more so than the kids from California or Texas," he said. "Being from Maine, you have to outwork everyone. The resources here are sometimes limited and the weather restricts everything. So you have to put the extra time in."
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