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Norris struggles to escape another short start

Tigers left-hander can't pitch into 5th in loss to Giants
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello are the reigning Cy Young Award winners. They spent their younger years with the Tigers, but they became Toledo Mud Hens for a stretch when the wheels were spinning.

This is the conundrum the Tigers face with Daniel Norris as the struggles compound and the losses add up.

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DETROIT -- Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello are the reigning Cy Young Award winners. They spent their younger years with the Tigers, but they became Toledo Mud Hens for a stretch when the wheels were spinning.

This is the conundrum the Tigers face with Daniel Norris as the struggles compound and the losses add up.

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"I think I'm my own worst enemy at times," Norris said after Wednesday night's 5-4 loss to the Giants, a game in which Norris left with a 5-0 deficit.

Scherzer didn't figure it out until his 28th birthday, midway through his third season as a Tiger and fourth season overall. He made two starts in Toledo at age 25.

Porcello didn't blossom until his sixth and final season in Detroit. He was an American League Rookie of the Year Award candidate as a 20-year-old in 2009, but he made four starts at Toledo the following summer.

Norris is 24. The Tigers, and scouts who follow them, believe he can be a very good pitcher. He's an athletic left-hander with a mid-90s fastball and a breaking ball that buckles hitters when he's on. But as he continues to work into situations he can't escape, his mind racing, his delivery hurrying, the Tigers are trying to figure out how to get that out of him.

"It's different for everyone," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's still very talented, albeit raw talent. His work effort is outstanding. He cares about the right things, almost cares so much about the right things that he wants to be so good, so fast that it can get in his way."

Norris knows what Scherzer and Porcello went through on their way. He has talked with pitching coach Jeff Jones during those years, as well as teammates and club officials. It's not making this any easier for him.

"I think for me, there's times when I've shown what I'm capable of," Norris said. "I don't lose confidence. I know that I've got it. I just have to get it back.

"For me, the most frustrating thing is I understand what's at stake for this team, and I just want to go out there and win. And I've been doing the opposite. They're frustrated. I'm frustrated. I want to do something to help this team. It hurts more, the more you care."

Video: SF@DET: Tomlinson scores on groundout

Again, Norris started out solid on Wednesday, allowing a single and a walk in his first two innings but working ahead of hitters. He faced 17 batters over the third and fourth innings combined, allowing five runs on six hits. He didn't allow the home-run ball that plagued him his previous couple starts, but he struggled to gather himself after a hard-hit comebacker, missing a potential out at home plate. He also gave up an RBI single to Jae-Gyun Hwang after not getting a call on a 1-2 fastball inside.

Norris left after four innings, allowing five runs on seven hits. He has given up five runs in each of his last three starts, the last two without throwing a pitch in the fifth inning.

"Clearly we need better results than that, for a number of reasons," Ausmus said. "It doesn't help us win games, but obviously it puts undue stress on the bullpen as well."

With the All-Star break next week, the Tigers won't need a fifth starter until July 18 at Kansas City. They could send out Norris and have him eligible to return by then, or bring up another starter. Ausmus had nothing to announce after Wednesday's game, but he left the possibility open.

"It's something that we'll discuss," he said.

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

Detroit Tigers, Daniel Norris