After showing some good flashes in Goodyear but being informed that he would not make the Opening Day roster, Ryan Flaherty opted out of his minor league pact with the Cleveland Indians on March 20 to see what options were out there.
On Sunday, the 32-year-old utility man returned to the Tribe, agreeing to a minor league deal. He is expected to report to Triple-A Columbus in advance of the Clippers season opening series with the Indianapolis Indians beginning from Huntington Park on Thursday, April 4.
Things have changed significantly on the Indians roster since Flaherty made the decision to test the open market. Second baseman Jason Kipnis has been shut down with a right calf injury and started the season on the 10-day injured list. Shortstop Francisco Lindor, while working his way back from his own right calf injury, sprained his left ankle in a minor league spring training game and has headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin, for a second opinion on the latter injury. He too has begun the year on the 10-day IL.
The losses of Kipnis and Lindor led the Indians to sign veteran infielder Brad Miller to a one-year Major League deal to help absorb the early losses of the Tribe’s keystone combination. The team has been using Miller extensively at second base, while using rookie Eric Stamets and utility man Max Moroff at shortstop.
The left-handed hitting Flaherty appeared in 17 games for Cleveland in Cactus League play this spring, hitting .243 with a .333 on-base percentage and a .459 slugging mark. He added two doubles, two homers, and eight RBI while also drawing five walks.
He has spent each of the last seven seasons in the Majors. A first round pick by the Chicago Cubs in the 2008 draft, he debuted with the Orioles in 2012 and spent his first six big league seasons in Baltimore. He became a free agent after the 2017 season and spent last spring in Florida with the Philadelphia Phillies before he was released late in camp and signed with the Atlanta Braves. He played in 81 games for the Braves (.217/.298/.292) and also appeared briefly in eight games for their Triple-A Gwinnett affiliate.
Flaherty has appeared in 533 games during his seven-year career, posting a lifetime .216/.286/.347 line at the plate. Defensively, he brings plenty of versatility, as he has taken the field at every position but catcher and center fielder at the big league level.
He is expected to see time around the infield for the Clippers, teaming up with prospects Yu Chang and Mark Mathias and fellow veteran Mike Freeman.
Photo: AP Photo