SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Game-ending home runs in spring training are not a big deal. However, Ryan Flaherty enjoyed his.
A year ago, Flaherty was a Rule 5 draft choice of the Baltimore Orioles, and he stayed with the team the entire season, and even hit a home run in the Division Series against the New York Yankees.
Flaherty isn't a sure thing to make the roster this year, but manager Buck Showalter likes the utility man's versatility. He came to the plate with two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning, and hit a three-run homer to give the Orioles an 11-10 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
``Everyone knows the games don't mean anything, but at the same time, everyone is competing, everyone is trying, so it always feels good every time you do something good,' Flaherty said.
During the regular season, the atmosphere would have been electric. In spring training, it's anything but.
``Right before, the umpire and the catcher were sitting there joking, `hey it's 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth and you can hear a penny drop in here.' So, it was kind of funny,' Flaherty said.
Mark Buehrle, the Blue Jays' third starter behind R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson, allowed Nolan Reimold's lead-off home run in the first in his two innings. He allowed two hits and walked three.
``For me, I hate walking guys. I'd rather give up 10 hits and no walks,' Buehrle said. ``That's the frustrating part.'
Jason Hammel, a likely candidate to start opening day for Baltimore, allowed five hits in 2 1-3 innings. He struck out four.
Hammel wants to build up his stamina before Apr. 2 when the Orioles play at Tampa Bay.
``I'd like to be six, seven, eight innings strong by then. Once the first game of the season happens, everybody should be in midseason form, if you ask me, strength-wise. Maybe you're still looking for some feel. I think I want to be ready to go when the season starts,' Hammel said.
Manager Buck Showalter won't pitch Hammel or any of his other starters in remaining exhibition games against American League East opponents.
``We're going to see these guys a ton of times this year. It was my first look at the revamped Toronto lineup. They got a lot of guys that put the ball in play. It used to be a high strikeout team. Still a couple of guys at the top of the order that can put the bat on the ball. They showed me that today. It's nice to see these guys early, but you don't want to be overexposed,' Hammel said.
NOTES: Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie has withdrawn from Team Canada's entry in the World Baseball Classic with a rib injury. Lawrie is expected to miss 2 to 3 weeks, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopolous said. Lawrie was on the disabled list with a similar injury last year that Anthopolous said was ``10 times worse' than this one. ... Toronto OF Colby Rasmus, who's been out since Thursday with soreness in his right shoulder is expected to play this weekend, manager John Gibbons said. ... Blue Jays RHP Sergio Santos will be held out until Tuesday, Gibbons said. ... Orioles LHP Tsuyoshi Wada will not pitch this spring training, Showalter said. He's still recovering from Tommy John surgery in May. ... Baltimore 3B Manny Machado left the game to have a root canal that was previously scheduled, Showalter said. ... Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken threw out the first pitch and signed copies of his new children's book, ``Wild Pitch.' ... Baltimore sent five players to minor league camp: RHP Mike Wright, LHPs Zach Braddock and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, Cs Luis Martinez and Allan de San Miguel.
The Associated Press News Service
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