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Norris makes good impression in rotation bid

Special to MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Daniel Norris didn't have his best fastball. He doesn't want it yet.

"When I was with the Blue Jays in '15, I was trying to make the team and my first two games I was 96, 97 [mph]," Norris said after pitching four innings for the first time this spring Friday. "Then the last game of the spring I hit that dead-arm phase and I was throwing 90 in April, grunting.

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LAKELAND, Fla. -- Daniel Norris didn't have his best fastball. He doesn't want it yet.

"When I was with the Blue Jays in '15, I was trying to make the team and my first two games I was 96, 97 [mph]," Norris said after pitching four innings for the first time this spring Friday. "Then the last game of the spring I hit that dead-arm phase and I was throwing 90 in April, grunting.

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"So that's what I try to avoid. You don't want to peak too early. I get the thing about making a team, yeah, but if it ruins the rest of your season, then what's the point?"

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Norris is trying to make the team again after a slow start to his spring due to the groin problem that bothered him last season. He believes he has time to work himself into one of the two spots that are nominally available behind Michael Fulmer, Francisco Liriano and Jordan Zimmermann.

"To go four innings today was good," Norris said. "I've been going one or two, so I was happy to get a few up and downs and also finish strong."

Against a Philadelphia Phillies split squad, he gave up two runs on six hits. He threw 56 pitches and didn't walk anybody.

"I have to see a lot more of him, but I just want him to be confident," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "He's in a battle and he's got to be confident. Today I thought it was a good step."

Video: WSH@DET: Norris talks about improving in 2018

Norris, who has an option left, will probably get two more starts before final decisions are made in regard to the rotation.

"I wish I knew, just to have some clarity, but I really don't know. I can't think about that because I'll be up at night," he said. "I'll just pitch and let them make the decisions."

Offense clicks vs. Phils
Jeimer Candelario and Nicholas Castellanos homered for the Tigers in a game that ended in a 6-6 tie, Detroit's fourth tie of the spring. Victor Martinez went 3-for-3 and drove in a run. The Tigers walked in a run for the second day in a row (Mike Fiers on Thursday, Joe Jimenez on Friday).

Video: PHI@DET: Castellanos cuts deficit with two-run homer

Greene makes fourth appearance
Shane Greene is on a special program set up for closers by pitching coach Chris Bosio. He will pitch seven times this spring, according to the manager.

"His velocity was there, the whole package," Gardenhire said after Greene's fourth appearance Friday, when he allowed one run in one inning. "He's exactly where he's supposed to be right now."

Miggy being aggressive
Miguel Cabrera ran through a stop sign and got thrown out at the plate after Martinez's double in the first inning.

"With two outs, I think that's what we've got to do," Gardenhire said. "I think Miggy wants to run. We don't want collisions or anything but with two outs, I want my third-base coach to wave him, and hopefully someone will bobble the ball and Miggy will score.

"I have no problem with that one with two outs. I waved everybody home when I coached third ... he might get thrown out by 10 yards but that's OK. With two outs, make 'em throw you out. You just don't get that many two-out base hits."

Cabrera is batting .314 in 35 spring at-bats, but has yet to hit a home run. His last home run came Sept. 14, and he hit only five in 63 games after July 1.

Worth noting
• Liriano pitched five innings in a simulated game against Minor Leaguers, giving up a run on three hits and a walk while striking out three.

• Catcher Brayan Pena was reassigned to the Minor League camp, leaving the Tigers with 36 players in Major League camp. Four catchers remain, including non-roster veterans Derek Norris and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Dick Scanlon is a contributor to MLB.com.

Detroit Tigers, Daniel Norris