Norris leaves game early, hopes to avoid DL

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Chicago — Daniel Norris is going on the disabled list.

Or is he?

The Tigers’ young starter was lobbying late Wednesday night for the front office to hold off any decision for at least a day, even after manager Brad Ausmus had said the pitcher was DL-bound.

“It’s pretty sore,” Norris conceded following the Tigers’ 15-8 win over the Cubs. “I’ll find out more tomorrow.

“I’ll get some rest tonight, and I’m just gonna pray about it.”

Norris exited the game with one out in the fifth inning, after he felt something on a curveball to the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler.

It kept bothering him, a trainer and Ausmus visited the mound — and on a second practice toss, Norris knew his night was done.

He was diagnosed with a right oblique strain, bringing an end to a night to remember for Norris — who homered in his first at-bat, walked in his second, and looked pretty darn good on the mound.

“It’s pretty frustrating. I wanted to stay in the game, get deeper in the game for my team,” said Norris, the bearded lefty, who knew the Tigers had ripped through six relievers the night before. “I would’ve been out there if I could’ve.”

Norris said in the fourth inning, he started really pulling down on the ball in his delivery, and was getting some good life — and good results.

To Fowler, he really tried to pull down for a “nasty” curveball, and that’s when the pain began.

It wasn’t from swinging the bat, he said. Ausmus wanted that theory downplayed, too, for the fans’ sake.

“People don’t think that unless you write that,” Ausmus said to one reporter after the game.

If Norris goes on the DL — and, again, Ausmus said that was the plan — the Tigers will have to find another starter for their rotation.

Ausmus had made no decisions on that front moments after the game, though Buck Farmer and Kyle Lobstein are possibilities.

Whoever does start in Norris’ place might be asked to go Saturday, so Saturday starter Matt Boyd could be pushed back a bit after throwing 18 pitches out of the bullpen Wednesday.

The Tigers used four more relievers — plus Boyd — Wednesday, including Drew VerHagen, who was called up after the heavy workload for the bullpen Tuesday. Another reliever callup could be coming, especially if Farmer gets the start in Norris’ place.

Norris, though, wants that talk to be put on hold, at least until after the results of his MRI on Thursday.

“Heck, yeah,” he said. “I want to keep pitching. The past two starts, I’m finally coming back. I’m starting to really find myself. I’m feeling really good on the mound.”