Norris getting good results, but isn't satisfied

April 16th, 2019

DETROIT – The numbers from ’ long-relief outing on Sunday at Minnesota were good, with three scoreless innings until Eddie Rosario’s leadoff homer off his 58th and final pitch. The feeling from Norris was much less optimistic.

“Even though the results were good the other day, I felt like the process was terrible,” he said. “I’ll take the results as they come.”

Norris said his delivery was too rushed, his release too choppy. The work he had put in on his mechanics was lost in the adrenaline of a relief appearance. Once Norris lifted his leg for his first pitch, the adrenaline took over.

Norris was much more encouraged by the side session he threw Tuesday afternoon at Comerica Park. His tempo was slower, his delivery more deliberate, and his pitches became better.

Norris didn’t have many chances to do such work while serving as a reliever. Now that he’s in the Tigers' rotation, replacing injured Matt Moore, he’s hoping for more positive momentum.

“Coming out of the bullpen, you’re fired up and in the game,” Norris said. “You go out there and I raise my leg and I’m already on the rubber. For me, I have to be slower and let it explode and let my athleticism take over, and that’s when the 95 [mph fastball] comes. I can build off of that. It’s just a matter of slowing down.”

Norris’ fastball averaged 89 mph on Sunday, topping out just over 91 mph. He picked up a couple of swinging strikes off of it in 31 pitches, mixed in with 19 sliders, four curveballs and a changeup.

Expect Norris to expand the arsenal when he starts against the White Sox next weekend. More important, he hopes the quality of the pitches are up.

“It definitely helps as far as getting in my workouts and my routine and my stuff,” Norris said of starting. “But I’m just happy to pitch anytime. I feel like I haven’t been throwing well, I wouldn’t say, but the way I felt at the end of Spring Training, that showed me I still have it.”

Harrison downplays facing old team

A month ago to the day, faced the Pirates in a Spring Training game in Lakeland, Fla., and hit an RBI double. In that sense, Harrison’s return against his old team was out of the way long before the Bucs arrived at Comerica Park on Tuesday for the game the Tigers would lose 5-3.

Unlike Spring Training, this week’s games count, but it doesn’t build any ill feelings on Harrison’s part. The reception he receives when Detroit visits Pittsburgh in June might make that two-game series feel a little bigger.

“A lot of good friendships,” Harrison said of his time with the Pirates, “but there’s no added motivation or anything. As far as I’m concerned, they’re another opponent trying to win a series.”

Harrison and fellow ex-Pirate renewed friendships with some of their old teammates before the game, spending time talking with players and club officials while the Tigers took batting practice. Mercer is on the 10-day injured list with a right quad strain, so he can’t face his old squad this time.

Both Harrison and Mercer left as free agents last offseason. In neither case was there any talk of re-signing, as the Bucs looked to fill slots internally while signing infielder Erik Gonzalez for veteran help.

“All that stuff is out the window,” Harrison said. “You don’t really get caught up in it. No disrespect, but I think that’s you guys’ job to make a story out of that.”

Harrison had kind words for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, the only skipper he had known in the Majors until signing with Detroit in Spring Training.

“Clint’s a guy that allowed me to be myself,” Harrison said. “I think that’s all guys could pretty much ask for when they get to this level. A great team is composed of 25 individuals coming together for one collective goal. Being a young guy coming up, he instilled that in me, to be me. The rest was history.”

Quick hits

• Double-A Erie right-hander Matt Manning, the No. 2 prospect in the Tigers organization, according to MLB Pipeline, was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week on Monday after tossing 12 innings of one-run ball in two wins last week.

• Outfielder Mikie Mahtook, designated for assignment by Detroit last Thursday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo.