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Struggling Norris has confidence, manager's faith

BALTIMORE -- Bud Norris' disappointing 2015 continued on Monday night.

Norris, coming off a career-high 15-win season last year, allowed four home runs over six innings in the Orioles' 8-1 series-opening loss to the Rangers. The righty, who lasted six innings, saw his ERA rise to 6.79 and continues to search for a way to turn things around as the calendar inches toward July.

"That's what we're trying to do," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of getting Norris, who allowed five earned runs, on a roll. "He has some periods where he's pitched well, but not as consistent as he did for a long period of time last year, and will again. I try to keep in mind we haven't even played half the season yet and Bud will do some good things for us."

Norris, who went 8-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 13 second-half starts in 2014, was grateful for Showalter's vote of confidence. But the ultra-competitive righty also knows that the first-place O's have a current pitching logjam -- with guys like Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson at Triple-A -- and Norris will have to do better than Monday's showing.

"Buck's given me confidence to go out there and do my job. I think he really knows what kind of guy I am, and so I think that says a lot," Norris said. "But I can't worry about what's behind me. I just want to help those guys. We've got some really good young talent coming through, and I had a lot of fun in Spring Training helping those guys -- the Gausmans and Wilsons and Mike Wrights. I don't know where my future's gonna take me. All know is I can handle what's in front of me right now, and trying to work through this is the No. 1 priority and getting back out there and helping my team win games, because I feel once I get [win] No. 3, I think I can really go from there and turn this thing around."

Norris is 2-7 on the year and has three quality starts in 11 games. He spent some time on the disabled list earlier this season after losing a substantial amount of weight with bronchitis, and Norris said several times on Monday night he doesn't think he's that far away from his 2014 self.

"I'm not a first-half guy, I hope I'm a second-half guy," he said. "I know what I did for this team last year in the second half and I just want to get back to that guy.

"A couple pitches here and there, if I find my slider, I feel like I'm a lot more in-tune with the game. I wasn't that far off. There was some positives to this, but I got to look at these negatives too and understand you have to keep the ball in the ballpark."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.
Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Bud Norris