Ryan Flaherty played six seasons with the Orioles as a utility infielder after being selected in the Rule 5 draft from the Chicago Cubs in December 2011.
After leaving the Orioles after the 2017 season, Flaherty played with the Atlanta Braves in 2018. He spent most of 2019 with Triple-A Columbus, and he was with the Cleveland Indians for the final month of the season.
Flaherty, the son of longtime University of Southern Maine baseball coach Ed Flaherty, has ended his playing career and will be the Major League Advance Scout/Development Coach for the San Diego Padres in 2020.
Padres general manager A.J. Preller contacted Flaherty to gauge his interest in joining new manager Jayce Tingler’s staff along with former Oriole coaches Bobby Dickerson and Wayne Kirby.
Question-How did you know that this was the right time to transition from playing into coaching?
Answer-“I guess it just kind of happened. I was in a position where I was healthy enough to still play. I knew I was getting to the end of it. I think when A.J. reached out and had this role he had in mind that he was interested in seeing if I wanted to do. It was something that intrigued me. I knew I wanted to stay in baseball and wasn’t sure what role I wanted to go into right away, but this wasn’t something I definitely had an interest in. If I was going to give up playing, this would be a good opportunity to go into.”
Q-What exactly are you going to be doing?
A-“There are going to be some different responsibilities. I think one [is] really kind of looking at the opposing team we’re going to be playing, dissect them and look at them, also some stuff with our own guys. I think just try to handle information and being able to give information to players, coaches and whoever else. As baseball continues to change, I think these kind of jobs are going to be created.”
Q-You’re going to be on a staff with Bobby Dickerson and Wayne Kirby and coach Manny Machado. Does having worked with so many people make it more comfortable?
A-“Familiarity anywhere you go helps. The guys that I’m going to get a chance to work with, I was with a long time in Baltimore. Bobby was with me when I was when I was with Chicago, going back to the minor leagues. Basically, my whole career I’ve spent with him, and being an infielder there’s really not too many people I respect more as a coach than him. Kirb and Manny, people that I’ve maintained friendships with past my Orioles days, just to be able to work with them again on a different level, I’m excited about it, to be sure.”
Q-You weren’t always sure this was what you wanted to do. What made you think this was what you wanted to do?
A-“Around my fourth or fifth year, if you had asked me this, I probably would have said something different, maybe go into college [coaching]. I just think by the end of it in Baltimore, having spent that many years with Buck [Showalter], I think he’s someone who inspired me. Buck would never say he inspired me. I may not say Buck inspired me, but in reflection, thinking about playing for Buck, just the way he thought about the game. My dad was a college coach and thought maybe that was something I wanted to go into. After I left there and reflected. Once you get toward the end you start thinking about it more. He was one of the big influences on why I decided to stay in pro ball in this kind of role.”
Q-Looking back on it, how important was your time in Baltimore?
A-“It was special. Buck would always remind the team: ‘These days don’t last forever. These are the good old days.’ You don’t think of it then, but when you get done and [the] guys are all separated, you do look back and say, ‘it was a unique group that was there for quite a long time,’ and you don’t get that every day in this game. We were able to win some games, obviously not the big game, but we were able to win some games, play winning baseball. You do look back and say, ‘hey, that was a special period in my life,’ whether it was with the coaches, the players, support staff, trainers. Those were the people who were there for a long time, and a group of people who had success in a six-year time period.”
Q-In your eight years in the majors, you only played on one losing team. How much does that help you in being able to teach guys?
A-“I know that’s something that A.J. asked me when I was going out there. I hadn’t really thought about it. There are certain teams you play on. They are winning teams, and it’s expected. There’s a feel. There’s an expectation level that nothing less is accepted. Even the years in Baltimore, the three years we didn’t make it, it was a sour taste the whole offseason. Speaking personally, as someone who played off the bench, the back of my baseball card isn’t something I brag about. You try and brag about something else, that you were fortunate enough to be a part of winning teams.”
Q-Five or 10 years from now, what do you want to be doing?
A-“I’d like to go through this year first and see how I feel about everything. I don’t know, staying in baseball in some capacity. I don’t know what that is. I’m excited for this opportunity. Everyone says it’s going to be a transition period, you’re not playing. Part of me thinks yes, but part of me thinks, being a bench player, you’re kind of in a role, similar to that, sitting there, trying to help guys, maybe not the advance part of the job, but some of the other stuff, there’s going to be things that are going to be very similar to what I was doing playing off the bench.”