DETROIT -- Daniel Norris still believes the old velocity on his fastball will come back with time and repetition. Until it does, however, he believes he's learning lessons about pitching without it.
"Every interview I've done since I've been here has been, 'Why are you throwing 90 [mph]?' And it was obviously right there every time I throw a pitch," Norris said after his no-decision Friday against the Cardinals. "I'm used to being able to throw 94-95 every pitch, and right now if I hit 93, I'm like, 'Oh, that's a plus.' It'll come back."
"I think the average velo will start creeping back. I don't know when that might be, but I'm learning how to pitch right now."
After two encouraging starts with 14 strikeouts over 9 1/3 innings, Norris is going to get every chance to keep pitching down the stretch. What was initially couched as a spot start when he returned from the disabled list a week ago to start at Yankee Stadium is now a full-fledged spot in Detroit's rotation, even if the Tigers have to go to a six-man rotation to fit everyone in.
"I like him where he's at," Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I want him in that rotation. I want to see more of him, because he has stuff. He can pitch. I think he can be a guy down the road. This guy has a chance to do some things. He's athletic, and he's got stuff. I'm happy to have him up here. I'm excited to watch him keep pitching the rest of the way here, and I like him right where he's at in the rotation. We're going to need starters, and he can be one."
Norris drew 11 swinging strikes Friday, eight of them off a fastball that averaged 91 mph and topped out at 92.6. His slider wasn't as sharp as last weekend at Yankee Stadium, drawing three swing-and-misses and three called strikes over 28 pitches. He hit the zone with only one of his five curveballs.
Still, he worked the strike zone relatively well. Foul balls, not balls out of the zone, ran up his pitch count to 90 over five innings.
"I like what I saw last night, and I like what I saw in the first start against the Yankees," Gardenhire said. "I didn't know how he was going to react on that stage. He could've thrown the ball to the backstop. But honestly, until he started cramping up, the ball was coming out of his hand really good in New York, and last night, too."
More than the stuff, however, was the demeanor. Norris didn't get out of his mechanics, either for extra adrenaline or for rushing his delivery. He paid for two fastballs up to Marcell Ozuna, both hit for homers, but didn't lose his composure after that. It's the product, Norris said, of four months of rehab in Lakeland, Fla., following groin surgery.
"Just feeling the body flow freely, that's the main thing," Norris said, "and I think every time I go out there, it feels a little bit better than the time before. Thinking about it, this is only my third real start back. I had a couple rehab starts, but they were just a couple innings on the back fields. It's just getting back into the swing of actually pitching and throwing a baseball 100 times a game."
Tigers add Peterson to prospect ranks
Rarely does an organization acquire a player and add him to a Minor League affiliate's postseason roster, but the Tigers were able to do so with outfielder Dustin Peterson after claiming him off waivers from the Braves on Thursday. He was assigned to Triple-A Toledo in the midst of the Mud Hens' International League playoff series against Durham.
Where the 23-year-old hitter, a former second-round Draft pick of the Padres, fits in the organization's plans remains to be seen. But the Tigers saw a chance to add some offensive punch when Atlanta designated him for assignment.
Peterson immediately slid into the 11th spot on MLB Pipeline's Tigers prospect rankings, ahead of Double-A Erie catcher Jake Rogers and up-and-coming infielder Isaac Paredes.
Another September callup
The Tigers' September callups extended to the broadcast booth Saturday, when Erie SeaWolves radio broadcaster Greg Gania made his big league debut as the play-by-play voice on the Tigers' radio broadcast.
Gania, a graduate of Bowling Green State University, has been the voice of the SeaWolves since 2006, seeing current Tigers Nicholas Castellanos, James McCann, Dawel Lugo, JaCoby Jones, Michael Fulmer and Joe Jimenez on their rise through the organization. He's also the SeaWolves' assistant general manager.
For Saturday, Gania pinch-hit for Dan Dickerson, who moved over to television for the Fox Sports Detroit telecast while Matt Shepard fulfilled his obligations as the voice of Eastern Michigan University football. Shepard broadcast the previous two games on TV and is expected to get more opportunities down the stretch along with Dickerson.
Fox Sports Detroit announced Friday that Mario Impemba and Rod Allen will not broadcast any more games this season following a reported pressbox altercation Tuesday in Chicago. Allen was scheduled to work the pre- and postgame show on FSD this weekend, but was not on the broadcast.