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Flaherty looking to win utility role with O's

Flaherty looking to win utility role with O's

Flaherty looking to win utility role with O's
SARASOTA, Fla. -- In his first Major League camp, Ryan Flaherty isn't just here to soak up the experience. As a Rule 5 Draft pick, Flaherty has to make the Orioles' Opening Day roster or he will be offered back to the Cubs.

"I can only control what I can control," Flaherty said of his mindset this spring, where he projects to compete for a utility spot. "It's just going out there and playing to my best ability. After that, it's out of my hands. I'm just taking it day by day and trying to have fun with it."

The 25-year-old Flaherty was a first-round sandwich pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, and he batted .280 with 19 homers last year at Double-A and Triple-A. The left-handed-hitting Flaherty said he's comfortable playing wherever he's needed -- infield or outfield -- and acknowledged it's been a whirlwind of a winter in switching organizations. What has helped Flaherty, who reported to camp earlier this week, is the welcoming nature in the Orioles' clubhouse, which has a high number of younger, inexperienced players.

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"Even the guys who have been here a couple years are really great, just getting to know them and helping me meet new people and stuff," Flaherty said. "The transition has been really smooth here the first week."

Flaherty also has common ground with new executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, a Massachusetts native who has family from Flaherty's hometown in Portland, Maine. While Flaherty knows his future with Baltimore is uncertain, he's excited to be with the Orioles and is taking things with his new team day-by-day.

The annual Rule 5 Draft, which is held at the Winter Meetings, allows teams to select certain Minor Leaguers who have been left off other clubs' 40-man rosters for $50,000. Those eligible players -- ones signed at age 19 or older who have remained in the organization for at least four years or those signed at age 18 or younger who have been in the organization for at least five years -- must stay on the selecting squad's 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the original club for $25,000.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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