Norris to start Friday, but needs innings

Lefty's appearances out of bullpen have been intermittent

April 18th, 2018

DETROIT -- Three weeks after broke camp in the Tigers' rotation, the young left-hander will make his first start of the season in the nightcap of Friday's day-night doubleheader against the Royals. Expect a discussion among team officials on how and where to get him innings after that.
When the Tigers chose to keep Norris in their bullpen rather than option him to Triple-A Toledo when Mike Fiers joined the rotation just over a week ago, the challenge was to get the young lefty enough innings to not only keep his arm fresh, but to allow him to work on the adjustments he has made with pitching coach Chris Bosio.
Norris threw 3 1/3 critical innings in Chicago on April 5 that kept Detroit close enough for a comeback win, then tossed three more innings in Cleveland last Wednesday. The combination of deep starts and miserable weather kept Norris out of action since.
In that sense, Friday's twin bill -- including a makeup of an April 4 game that was postponed due to cold weather -- is a blessing. Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said Norris will be stretched out to around 75 pitches if everything goes right, which should give the 24-year-old a good challenge against a Royals lineup that entered Wednesday batting an American League-best .286 against left-handed pitchers.
That will likely be the extent of Norris' work for the Tigers' current homestand, which ends Sunday. Detroit begins a two-city, six-game road trip Tuesday in Pittsburgh, where the Tigers will have to figure out their bench for Interleague Play without the DH slot available. But the time away from home could also put a premium on bullpens.
"He wants to be in the big leagues," Gardenhire said of Norris, "and he is in the big leagues. We're trying to get this thing righted where we're using him correctly. We've all said that you have to have starting pitching, and he's one of them. We'll see how it goes along here. We're getting him into the rotation here, but we'll see after that.
"I just think we need him stretched out and pitching, not sitting so much, because we'll need pitching as we go along. We've already seen that. Those are conversations that we're going to have now that [Bosio] is back. We want to do the right thing and talk with the bosses to make sure he's prepared for when we really need him in the rotation. I've said that from the get-go and it's been kind of a little bumpy ride. But we got him in there, scheduled to go the second game of the doubleheader."
Quick hits
• Michiganders who lost power in the weekend ice storm have sympathy. Detroit catcher said he lost electricity at the area home where he and his family are staying, and didn't regain it until late Tuesday night. Fortunately, he said, a generator at the house kept enough things running for him and his wife Jessica to take care of their twin boys.
• The Tigers braved temperatures in the low 30s and took batting practice outside Wednesday morning for the first time since Friday afternoon. It could be their last BP outside for a couple days, with snow potentially accumulating overnight into Thursday morning, then a day-night doubleheader Friday.