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Norris moved to bullpen as Saupold sent down

Gardenhire expects lefty will still get enough work in
MLB.com @beckjason

CHICAGO -- Daniel Norris is out of the Tigers rotation for now. He is not, however, heading to Triple-A Toledo.

While the Tigers made room on the roster for Mike Fiers to join the rotation for his team debut Sunday, it did not involve Norris, who will remain in the Tigers bullpen for now as a long reliever. Instead, Warwick Saupold was optioned to Toledo.

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CHICAGO -- Daniel Norris is out of the Tigers rotation for now. He is not, however, heading to Triple-A Toledo.

While the Tigers made room on the roster for Mike Fiers to join the rotation for his team debut Sunday, it did not involve Norris, who will remain in the Tigers bullpen for now as a long reliever. Instead, Warwick Saupold was optioned to Toledo.

View Full Game Coverage

Manager Ron Gardenhire said earlier this week that the Tigers view Norris as a starter, which made the move to keep him in the bullpen a bit of a surprise. However, Gardenhire said Saturday in announcing the move that he believes they can get Norris enough work to keep him ready to step in as a starter if and when the need arises.

Tigers defeat White Sox, 6-1

"We all knew something had to happen," Gardenhire said. "We talked a lot of different ways about it and in talking with [general manager] Al Avila, he thinks this is the right way to go right now, and I'm on board with it. The one thing I know for sure is we need starters in this organization, and he's going to be one of them. So we'll keep him up here for a little while but if he's not getting his work, we talked about this, we'll get him back down and let him start. But I think we can give him some innings up here. I know we will."

Norris opened the season as the Tigers' fifth starter, with Fiers on the 10-day DL with a lumbar strain. However, Wednesday's weather-related postponement of their series finale against the Royals scratched Norris' start, moving him to the bullpen while the Tigers kept their other four starters on turn. With Fiers ready to return, it looked like Norris might head to Toledo without making an appearance with the Tigers despite just over a week with the club.

Video: DET@NYM: Fiers K's Guillorme swinging to end 1st

Once the White Sox knocked out Jordan Zimmermann in the fifth inning Thursday, the Tigers needed Norris in long relief. His 3 1/3 innings of one-run ball kept the Tigers in the game for a ninth-inning comeback in an eventual victory, while his six strikeouts showed some of his old deceptiveness.

Gardenhire didn't say that game was a determining factor, but the tone regarding Norris' situation seemingly changed from before that game to after.

"He's stretched out a little bit, and he can give us multiple innings," Gardenhire said. "You saw what he did the other night, and we're going to need that right now. We've got Fiers coming off the DL here, and with these cold temperatures, we don't know how many innings he's going to give us in [Sunday's] game. So [Norris] will be the guy that can piggyback him and give us multiple innings in a lot of different situations. So we're going to go that way right now."

The long view on Norris, Gardenhire emphasized, hasn't changed.

"It's more about where we're at right now in our bullpen and the whole package," Gardenhire said. "It's about stretched-out innings, and he can do some of those things, we're hoping. There were pros and cons both ways, believe me. I'm a little nervous about it just for the fact that I know how much starting pitching we need, and he's one of them. But we've talked this thing through and decided this is the way to go right now."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Mike Fiers, Daniel Norris