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Inbox: Will Norris stay up with the Tigers?

Beat reporter Jason Beck fields questions from fans
April 6, 2018

Answering your Tigers questions on a cold, blustery off-day in Chicago …

Answering your Tigers questions on a cold, blustery off-day in Chicago …

What the Tigers have with Daniel Norris right now is a clash between the long-term goal of building around young talent and the short-term need they've felt to add depth and potential trade pieces while covering innings. Realistically, this decision doesn't come down to sending down Norris on Sunday to start Mike Fiers. This decision was essentially made when the Tigers signed Francisco Liriano in Spring Training with the plan of stretching him out as a starter.
The Tigers have to figure out what they have in Norris by letting him get a good stretch of starts in Detroit at some point this season. If he ends up spending the majority of his season at Triple-A Toledo, they're not going to learn much, and he's not going to learn much. I suspect he'll get that stretch once a rotation spot opens up, either by injury or roster move or moving somebody to the bullpen. But as long as their other five starters are healthy, that time is not going to be now. You don't sign Fiers and Liriano for $10 million combined and then sit them at the start of the season when healthy without giving them a chance, however you see the moves.
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This is one of those situations that often sorts itself out given time. Unfortunately for Norris right now, he's the young hurler caught in the crunch from the veterans the Tigers added, and as a result he has been yanked around mentally between the bullpen appearances in Spring Training and then not pitching at all Opening Week.

The Tigers have to keep Victor Reyes on the roster all season, barring a certain amount of allowed DL time, in order to keep him in the organization, since he was a Rule 5 Draft pick. Barring something surprising, I think they'll do it. First, while they have outfield prospects in the system, they need more athleticism and speed, and Reyes has that. Second, manager Ron Gardenhire hasn't used his bench much late in games so far. The only pinch-hitter they've used so far this season was Michael Mahtook replacing an injured Reyes in the second game of last Sunday's doubleheader.

Gardenhire knows he's going to have to find at-bats for Jacoby Jones going along in order to justify keeping him in the big leagues. Those at-bats aren't there right now while Gardenhire is figuring out what he has in Leonys Martin, who's getting a chance to prove himself in lefty-lefty situations late in games, like Thursday against White Sox southpaw Aaron Bummer. If that continues, it'll be interesting to see if Jones gets any starts in left, or if he resumes taking ground balls in the infield for potential work there.

Small sample size, since they've only had one win at home, but the common denominator seems to be something loud. I think I had one quote out of a nearly four-minute postgame interview Victor Martinez did because I simply couldn't hear him. Definitely seemed like a more hip-hop mix, though. The pregame music seems a lot more laid back this year with more reggae. The Tigers not only lost a veteran superutility player in Andrew Romine, they lost Romine's clubhouse music mix.

Not right now. Between off-days and weather postponements, the only chance the Tigers bench has had to get starts was last Sunday's doubleheader. It'll be interesting to see if the switch-hitter gets some pinch-hitting opportunities, though.

If Michael Fulmer continues to hone the slider he has been working on since Spring Training, that has a chance to be a wipeout pitch. The slider has been Alex Faedo's bread-and-butter pitch from college. Kyle Funkhouser has had a good slider when healthy. I'm leaving out others, but those are the guys who come to mind off the top of my head.

Too cold and windy to run outside along the lakefront, so I got out of the hotel and wrote this at Starbucks. No, the other one.

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