Hectic spring a distant memory for Norris
Padres' new catcher finds swing at right time
LOS ANGELES -- There was a point late in Spring Training, far later than even Derek Norris would have liked, when the Padres' catcher was still searching for his swing -- as well as a few hits.
Norris, who was charged with learning a new pitching staff, began the spring in a 3-for-31 funk before finding his timing at the plate in the waning days in Arizona.
It appears Norris has rolled that fast finish into a good start, as he finished with two hits for the second time in as many days, including a two-run double in the ninth inning Tuesday night, as the Padres topped the Dodgers, 7-3, at Dodger Stadium.
"I had a lot on my plate early in the spring, trying to learn a pitching staff, a coaching staff. Not that I'm complaining, but it's a lot to learn," he said. "Once I got on the ground with everyone, I focused on my hitting a little more. For me, it's a matter of getting that timing."
On a team filled with newcomers -- 15 new players on the Opening Day roster this year compared with 2014 -- Norris might lack the name recognition that teammates Matt Kemp and Justin Upton do. That's fine with him. He'd rather have the production.
On Monday, Norris used his speed to beat out an infield single with two outs in the fifth inning, which allowed Kemp to bat. Kemp followed with a two-run double, and Norris scored from first base.
In the eighth inning Tuesday, he singled, moved to second base and then took third base on a fly ball to Yasiel Puig in right field. He then scored on a Yonder Alonso single. Norris then struck a big blow in that decisive ninth inning, when he doubled down the left-field line, scoring two runs.
"He's playing a good all-around game. We've talked about both his offensive production that we think is going to be there and the demanding position of handling a pitching staff and doing what we need for him to do behind the plate," said Padres manager Bud Black.
"He had a good night. He's up for it, up for the challenge. We're going to hit him in the second hole and see how that goes."