Tigers: Norris won’t be ready to start season
The lower back problems that scratched Daniel Norris from one start and forced him out of another over the past week will keep him off of the Tigers’ Opening Day roster. Manager Brad Ausmus confirmed that Detroit’s young left-hander will not be ready to open the season with the Major League roster.
“He won’t be at this point,” Ausmus said prior to Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays. “From a pitch count perspective, he probably wouldn’t be ready by Opening Day.”
Exactly when Norris will pitch again at any level is to be determined. Norris spent Thursday visiting a back specialist to determine the reasons for the lower back tightness that have limited him. Norris underwent initial tests Tuesday after leaving that day’s game in the first inning, having thrown 25 pitches against the Jays. He was pitching Tuesday because he was scratched from his previously scheduled start against the Marlins last Saturday.
Norris, who won a job in the Jays rotation last year with a dominant Spring Training, has given up seven runs on 12 hits over 6 1/3 innings this year. More importantly, he hasn’t pitched more than two innings in a game this year. Even if he could make his next scheduled start, he would have two starts to build up from around 50 pitches to 90, while also trying to pitch effectively.
The likely fate for Norris is a season-opening stint on the 15-day disabled list. If Norris is ready to pitch before the end of Spring Training, the Tigers could keep the DL as an option by pitching him in minor-league games. If Norris pitches again by the end of camp, Detroit could also option him to the minor leagues, since he has one left and could qualify for a bonus option.
Thus, what looked to be Norris’ job to lose at the back of Detroit’s rotation will come down to Shane Greene, Matt Boyd or Buck Farmer. Boyd is scheduled to face the Blue Jays today, with Greene pitching Friday against the Braves in Lakeland.