LHP Norris joins Reds camp on Minors deal

February 15th, 2023

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds added another left-hander into the mix of competing for a roster spot on Wednesday when veteran agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Norris will be in big league camp.

A nine-year Major League veteran who has been with four clubs, the 29-year-old Norris was 2-4 with a 5.33 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 41 appearances with the Cubs and Tigers. After Chicago released him on July 22, he went back to his former team in Detroit and posted better results, compiling a 3.45 ERA in 14 games, including two starts.

"You’re totally bummed you got released, but you’re walking out the door thinking maybe the numbers don’t reflect what I feel. I feel like I got better," Norris explained. "Going back to the Tigers, I think I was able to sort of piece it together and show that I utilized things that I learned with the Cubs and it provided an opportunity to grow and get better with the Tigers to finish the year strong.

"I felt really solid about how I finished the year. I think I turned things around in the numbers respect, but also pitch-by-pitch. I had a way better plan and process. I felt good about that.”

Former Tigers teammate and Reds reliever Buck Farmer is one of Norris' best friends. In high school, Norris was recruited for Vanderbilt University by current Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson. Norris felt his experience could be of help to a younger Cincinnati clubhouse.

"At this point in my career, I relish the opportunity to help younger players grow," Norris said. "I think in my career as a whole, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve had the ups and downs, peaks and valleys."

Over his career, Norris is 22-38 with a 4.71 ERA in 208 games (86 starts). He previously pitched for the Blue Jays (2014-15), Tigers (2015-20, '22), Brewers (2021) and Cubs (2022).

Notes from the first workout day on Wednesday

• Right-handed reliever Lucas Sims, who was limited to six games last season because of a back injury, was among those throwing in a bullpen session. Sims can fully participate in camp without limitations, manager David Bell said. 

• Another righty reliever who dealt with back trouble in 2022, Tony Santillan, also threw in the bullpen Wednesday. Bell said that Santillan's back is fully recovered, but he might be delayed to begin the regular season on time.

"He took so much time rehabbing his back, we have to make sure he has time to build up his arm, and we don’t want to rush that process," Bell said. 

• Infield prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand is scheduled to be examined because of a back issue that may delay when he can start camp.

• Even though position players are scheduled to report on Sunday, several have already arrived in camp. Jonathan India, Nick Senzel, Jose Barrero and non-roster invite Chad Pinder were among those in the clubhouse. 

"A lot of our guys felt like it would really help them to get off to the best start and be ready by getting here early. It’s great to see," Bell said. "It’s probably more important this year than ever. With everything being shortened the last couple of years, just making sure they’re ready will help with the health. It will allow us to have a more difficult Spring Training as far as workload, which will be helpful.”

• Bell planned on having hitters take more at-bats this year than in past camps -- whether it's in Cactus League games, B-games or Minor League games. 

"In my experience, the more work you do in Spring Training that you can handle and is healthy, the better your legs get in shape -- and the best years you have are when you push yourself in Spring Training to get really ready," Bell said.