For former Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty, the impact Buck Showalter had on him went far beyond his playing career. Now an advance scout and development coach with the San Diego Padres, Flaherty is especially appreciative of what learned from Showalter during their years in Baltimore.
Flaherty realized at one point during his second major-league season in 2013 that Showalter always had something unique to point out.
“I think spending so much time around Buck, you know there was something each day that he’d point out that I can guarantee not one other person that was in Camden Yards that day noticed,” Flaherty said on Glenn Clark Radio June 8. “I learned more about playing the game from him [those] six years than I had most my whole life.”
Flaherty spent six seasons with the Orioles and helped turn the team into a playoff contender. He was part of three postseason appearances: 2012, 2014 and 2016. In 2014, Baltimore reached the ALCS for the first time since 1997 but was swept by the Kansas City Royals. Flaherty played a key role down the stretch that season, taking over at third base when former Orioles infielder Manny Machado got hurt in August of that year.
From Day One, Flaherty knew that reaching the playoffs would be a challenge in the AL East.
“I remember my first meeting in January , I came to Baltimore and Buck said, ‘You ready to play in the AL East, it’s like playing in the SEC in football,’” Flaherty said. “At that time the Yankees were loaded, the Red Sox were loaded and you didn’t know what to expect.”
Flaherty never hit better than .225 during his time with the Orioles, but the fans always embraced him and he is still respected by Baltimore today. His best season was in 2013, when he hit .224 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs. He played every position except catcher and center field during his time with the Orioles — including an inning on the mound in 2016 when he pitched the final inning of a blowout loss against the Houston Astros.
“I remember a lot of nights when these guys should be booing me and they’d give me a nice loud ovation,” Flaherty said. “I don’t deserve this but I think it was fun. They cheered for me a lot louder than they should have, I know that.”
Acquired in the Rule 5 draft from the Chicago Cubs, Flaherty made his big-league debut in 2012, the same year Machado made his debut. Flaherty and Machado spent parts of six seasons as teammates (2012-2017) and are now reunited in San Diego. Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres before the 2019 season.
Flaherty was asked what he could provide Machado as a coach, and he had some kind words for his former teammate.
“There is no helping Manny Machado, probably the most talented player in the game,” Flaherty said. “I said it before: he’s probably one of the top five teammates I’ve ever had. It’s just the media, I think for certain instances, turned the story on him a little bit. I think you could ask a lot of people that played with him and they’d probably tell you the same thing.”
Flaherty was asked if he sees himself becoming a manager in the future, but he’s not looking that far ahead. There has been a recent trend of former players becoming managers not long after retiring, and Flaherty could fit the bill. A few notable names include Gabe Kapler, Rocco Baldelli and David Ross, all of whom are younger than 45.
“I don’t know. At some point, I’ve got a passion [for] coaching and where that leads, who knows,” Flaherty said. “I’m here working for the San Diego Padres and enjoying every minute of it so far. Who knows where that leads down the road. I’m just excited to try and help the Padres win this year.”
While Flaherty isn’t sure if he will become a manager, his former college coach at Vanderbilt, Tim Corbin, believes he can. Flaherty played at Vanderbilt from 2006-2008 and was a two time second-team All-SEC selection in 2007 and 2008. The Commodores reached the NCAA Tournament Regionals in all three years Flaherty was on the team.
Corbin thinks Flaherty can become a manager in short order.
“I think next couple of years, he’s got the right personality for it,” Corbin said on GCR June 1. “You talk about leaders in all sorts of arenas and their ability to move people in a positive direction and create harmony inside an environment and have a level of empathy that female world leaders have right now going through this virus. [Flaherty’s] traits as a person and as a human and as a mind, he’s cut out for that.”
For more from Flaherty, listen to the full interview here:
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