New Tiger Norris a talented, unorthodox adventurer

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Daniel Norris

Get ready, Detroit.

Daniel Norris is about to re-define a few notions about big-league pitchers and their supposed elite lifestyles.

Norris, 22, and one of the upper-tier pitching prospects in all of baseball, was snatched Thursday by the Tigers in a deal that sent David Price to Toronto and brought Norris, as well as two other left-handed prospects, to the Tigers.

Pitching skill is why Norris is destined for Comerica Park, although how he arrives there could represent a first in Tigers travel modes.

A native of Johnson City, Tennessee, Norris is famous for having lived in a 1978 Volkswagen van he nicknamed "Shaggy."

He reportedly exists on $800 a month, one of the disclosures offered by an ESPN story that presents Norris as the portrait of a gentle, philosophical counter-culturist who might be the most unorthodox potential Tigers pitcher since Mark Fidrych arrived in 1976.

He cooks on a portable stove, writes in a nightly journal by way of a miner's headlight, and subscribes to a low-frills life that might make "spartan" sound posh.

The Tigers, however, wanted Toronto's top prospect because of a splendid four-pitch repertoire that opens with a mid-90s fastball, includes a high-profile curveball, and extends to a change-up and slider.

He is the son of bicycle-shop owners and was so highly regarded out of Science Hill High the Jays offered him $2 million to sign in 2011 after they took him with the 74th overall draft pick.

"I'm not going to change who I am just because people think it's weird," Norris said in the ESPN Magazine profile. "The only way I'm going to have a great season is by starting out happy and balanced and continuing to be me. It might be unconventional, but to feel good about life I need to have some adventure."

A professed Christian, Norris was baptized in his baseball uniform, the ESPN article said, detailing other aspects of a not-so-common man who says he has never tasted alcohol, who hikes, communes with nature, and allows financial planners to take care of his money, insisting they deposit only $800 a month into his checking account.

This isn't the norm, of course, in a Tigers clubhouse, or in any big-league corridor where young men with money and passions tend to indulge themselves in ways quite different from Norris.

But it appears to be part of an overall story that will be coming soon to a clubhouse in Detroit.

Get ready, Motown. You think you've seen some past sports stars who didn't conform to the mold. You likely haven't seen anything yet.