Norris making most of unexpected backstop situation

Catcher displays value to Nationals with game-tying solo homer

March 9th, 2017
Derek Norris knows that his time with the Nationals might be limited, so he's staying positive. (AP)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- knows the reality of his situation. He understood from the moment Matt Wieters signed with the Nationals and arrived at Spring Training that his second tenure with the club that drafted him would likely end -- again, without ever appearing in a regular-season game for the organization.

For now, Norris is a member of the Nationals. He is still taking the time to learn the pitching staff. He is still laughing and joking with the rest of the clubhouse. And he has not hung his head or changed his demeanor -- despite the awkward situation -- even if it has not necessarily been easy.

Instead, Norris has put in the work to prepare for the season, including hammering a game-tying solo home run in Thursday's 2-2 tie with the Marlins.

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"I don't know if 'easy' is the proper word to use," Norris said. "But whether I'm wearing red and blue, or I'm wearing purple and gold or whatever color, you're still going to be coming out here and doing the same thing. Catching [bullpen sessions], blocking balls. You're going to be throwing. You're going to be hitting. So just coming out here and doing my work and getting my at-bats and just preparing for a season, whether I'm in Washington or elsewhere."

Nats manager Dusty Baker has done his best to get Norris the proper work and make sure Norris is getting his share of at-bats, despite a crowded catcher position. And Baker has admired the way Norris has continued to make the best of his situation.

"You don't have a choice," Baker said. "He's a professional. When you go out there on the field, there's nothing you can do about the external things that are out there. You have to be able to block it off, block it out and do your job. He doesn't seem bothered at all. He knows we're watching him, other people are watching him."