SARASOTA, Fla. -- When Ryan Flaherty was greeted with a handshake by former Oriole Mike Bordick in the team's clubhouse on Monday, Flaherty was all smiles -- and for good reason.
For one, the 25-year-old Flaherty had been informed by Orioles manager Buck Showalter he had made the roster and would break camp with the team for the first time in his professional career. Secondly, the native of Portland, Maine, knew Bordick -- who went to high school in Winterport -- was the only other resident of his state who had ever made the Major Leagues.
"Coming up and growing up in Maine, I think you're always having to [deal with] ... people who say, 'Oh, you aren't going to make it.' So you have to play with your chip on your shoulder," said Flaherty, who was a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Cubs organization in December. "[Shaking Bordick's hand] means a lot -- especially coming from him. I think he's the only position player to make it from the whole state of Maine to play in the big leagues. So having him here, it means a little more. It's pretty special. It was a moment you wait a long time to get told [that you made the roster]."
The annual Rule 5 Draft, which is held at the Winter Meetings, allows teams to select certain Minor Leaguers who have been left off other clubs' 40-man rosters for $50,000. Those eligible players -- ones signed at age 19 or older who have remained in the organization for at least four years or those signed at age 18 or younger who have been in the organization for at least five years -- must stay on the selecting squad's 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the original club for $25,000.
The 25-year-old Flaherty was a first-round sandwich pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, and he batted .280 with 19 homers last year between Double-A and Triple-A. The left-handed-hitting Flaherty said he's comfortable playing wherever he's needed -- infield or outfield -- and acknowledged it's been a whirlwind of a winter in switching organizations.
"It's been great," said Flaherty, who batted .232 with two doubles, two triples and a home run in 54 at-bats this spring. "It's been a great spring, I know that for sure. And [it's been] a lot, you go from being left unprotected to being taken by a team, all the way up to this point. ... To be able to play in the big leagues has been a dream since I was a kid. So, it's just a special moment, for sure."
Flaherty called his dad, Ed, who is in his 26th season as the head baseball coach at the University of Southern Maine.
"I had to run out for batting practice, so I just sent him a text message," Flaherty said. "[I've] got to call him after batting practice."
Arrieta named Opening Day starter
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Buck Showalter announced on Monday that
Jake Arrieta will be the Orioles' Opening Day starter. Baltimore will begin the season on Friday at home against the Minnesota Twins.
"Jake will pitch on that day and we will go from there," Showalter said in a press conference at the club's Spring Training complex. "We're real proud of him and the way he's gotten back. He's experienced with that environment, as are some other guys we considered. We're hoping he pitches well enough that he does it again next year and the year after that and the year after that. ... He was one of our better pitchers last year before he had the surgery."
Jason Hammel, who will pitch in Baltimore's last spring game in Florida on Tuesday against State College of Florida at 1:05 p.m. ET, will be the No. 3 starter and make the outing on Sunday against the Twins. Showalter still needs to determine if left-hander Wei-Yin Chen or right-hander Tommy Hunter will follow Arrieta on Saturday.
It is a shining moment for Arrieta, after the 26-year-old right-hander had season-ending surgery last year to remove a bone spur from his elbow on Aug. 12.
"All the work that I did throughout the offseason ... to get to this point was stuff I was going to do regardless if I was going to be starting Opening Day or the third, fourth, fifth game," said Arrieta, who went 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA in the 2011 campaign. "Whatever it might have been, I would have approached my offseason the exact same way. That's just my mentality and that's just how I've always kind of been, a guy who's going to put in all the necessary work in to reap the benefits I would like to receive at the end of the day. "But to be in this position -- 100 percent healthy, still getting stronger -- it's very rewarding. I think the entire staff [saw] the benefit of the work I was able to do, and how quickly I was able to recover and get back to full strength."
Showalter chose Arrieta because of the way he handled the adversity after the injury and because of his big-game experience.
"To pitch as well as he did last year with some of the challenges he had with his elbow -- he won 10 games last year -- and having a very similar venue that he pitched in last year, I think Jake's certainly got the experience to handle this," Showalter said. "I'm proud of him, to get to this point, regardless of what happens. I think if he's healthy, he's going to be a real contributor for us this year."
Arrieta discussed his start in the home opener last season, when he allowed one run on six hits over six innings in the Orioles' win over the Tigers. He also recalled his time with Team USA. In 2006, Arrieta went 4-0 with a 0.27 ERA, giving up only 10 hits in 35 innings while teaming up with the Rays' David Price to help the U.S. win the 2006 World University Baseball Championship.
"I think the biggest thing ... is managing the adrenaline," said Arrieta, who was also a second-team All-America with TCU before being drafted by the Orioles in 2007. "When I run out onto the field before the anthem, that's when everything's going to be taken up a notch. I think just having that internal dialogue with myself just to tell myself to remain calm or take deep breaths or whatever the case may be, whatever it takes to calm myself down, I will [do].
"It's easier said than done. Not only the adrenaline, but there's very few moments where you really get that type of feeling that I've had: Opening Day at home last year, pitching in the Olympics. There's maybe a handful of times when I've had that type of feeling, and Friday is going to be another one of those. I think more than anything, that's what I'm looking forward to."
Arrieta said he will have several family members in attendance, including his wife Brittany and one-year-old son Cooper. The California-native also is excited about pitching on the 20th anniversary of the opening of Camden Yards.
"It's a big day for the organization, for the Oriole family, for fans all across the country -- obviously in Baltimore specifically," Arrieta said. "All the fans who have been on board [with] the Orioles since Camden was opened. It's a big day.
"It's hard for me to put it into words about how big a day it really is, because I didn't necessarily grow up an Orioles fan. But all the history that's here, I've kind of seen that over the past few years being in this organization. There's a lot of excitement leading ... into the season. We all see that and we're excited to get started."
Buck to use exhibitions to evaluate 'pen
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Buck Showalter said the exhibition games over the next few days would be used as a way to sort out the bullpen, as well as to allow players to get geared up for the regular season.
"There's a part where you'd like them to back off a little bit and get recharged for the season," Showalter said.
The Orioles pounded out eight hits, including two home runs, in the first inning against Florida Southern College on Monday. J.J. Hardy hit a three-run homer and Chris Davis followed later with a three-run shot of his own.
The Orioles will host State College of Florida in Sarasota on Tuesday, before facing Triple-A affiliate Norfolk on Wednesday.
"It's [an] exhibition and it's a controlled environment," Showalter said. "It's part of being a part of this community down [in Sarasota]. We have a responsibility, scouting, being a part of them. In the past, [I] told the guys it's kind of like the last part of the season. There's integrity to the game and a certain presentation you need to make. It's an honor to play Major League Baseball and for your organization."
Johnson gets in work vs. Florida Southern
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Reliever Jim Johnson started against Florida Southern College on Monday. The 6-foot-6 right-hander tossed a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
"Well they told me I'd start sometime this spring," Johnson said. "I just didn't know it would come in almost the last game."
Johnson said it was necessary for him to get an appearance in before the team breaks camp after Tuesday's afternoon contest against State College of Florida because his wife, Elizabeth, will have doctors induce labor sometime on Tuesday.
"Everything's fine," said Johnson. "I'll meet the team up [north], so I just needed to get some work in."
Johnson said he hasn't been told what type of role he will have this season, but he expects the bullpen to be an upgrade over the past two years.
"There's just an overlap with guys who are able to pitch in all different [types] of situations," Johnson said. "We know where we're going to pitch, and it's not like someone has to pitch three consecutive days because they have a certain role."
Johnson said he expects everything to sort itself out after Wednesday's day to set rosters.
"There's a couple more decisions to be made, so it's hard to make a call on how the bullpen shapes up," Johnson said.
Johnson went 6-5 and had nine saves in 69 appearances last season, while posting a 2.67 ERA. He had 58 strikeouts and 21 walks over 91 innings.
Showalter said Hammel and Tsuyoshi Wada would pitch in Tuesday's game, with Hammel starting for the O's and Wada starting for the college team. On Monday, Showalter hinted at Hammel being the No. 3 starter, with the right-hander most likely taking the hill on Sunday against the Twins.
Wada is vying with Brian Matusz for the No. 5 starter spot.
Mike Snyder, brother of former Orioles infielder Brandon Snyder, was the starting third baseman for the Florida Southern College team on Monday.
Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.