SARASOTA, FL – Ryan Flaherty knew he made it after hitting his first home run on April 14, 2012.
Flaherty, who is entering his second year with the Baltimore Orioles after making the opening day roster last season, remember that feeling well and is using it to inspire more of the same in 2013.
“That was pretty cool to hit that first home run, to get that out of the way,” said the second baseman, as he sat across the table outside the spring training complex. “It kind of gives you that sense of feeling you belong”
In 77 games with the Orioles in 2012, he had 33 hits, 19 RBI’s, six home runs and a .216 batting average. Those numbers can improve, he believes.
“You build a lot on things that happened last year,” said Flaherty. “You’ve been through it [last year] so take that into this year and definitely a little more sense of comfort.
“I want to get back there [playing second base] and be better.”
Flaherty likes to get to practice field early and work on improving his skills. He feels talent can only take you so far and that you need to have a will to want to get in the Major Leagues, and then stay there.
“If you work hard enough and you want it bad enough, you can pretty much do anything you want in this world,” said Flaherty. “I believe in that.”
Growing up in New England as a kid, Flaherty was a fan of the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter, admiring the way he played the game the right way.
For this young man to make it to the major leagues and to see the man he looked up to sitting in the visitor’s dugout was pretty special.
Flaherty also likes to watch and study other players, whether it’s from teammates such as J.J. Hardy or players from other teams.
He believes you can take something from everybody and learn all aspects of the game, both offensively and defensively. When it comes to overcoming the challenges of this game, you need to have a lot of confidence.
“It’s a game that’s built on self-confidence,” said Flaherty. ”Times get tough … you got to see through them and believe in your ability and keep working hard. And if you do that you’ll come out of it.”
His love for America’s pastime came from playing pretty much every day with his father Ed (who was a college baseball coach) and his younger brother in the backyard of his parent’s home.
As embarked on the journey in becoming a professional baseball player, he always remembered the advice his father gave him. His dad’s words of wisdom were to always have fun. It’s a game. And those words stuck with him.
“At the end of the day, it is a game,” said Flaherty. “There is a lot of other stuff going on, but at the end of the day, it’s still the game you played as a kid so if you take that, you’ll be fine.”
In 12 spring training games he’s had six hits, five RBI’s, two home runs and a .261 batting average.