Detroit — Left-hander Daniel Norris, who threw briefly on flat ground Tuesday, was given an extra day between starts. The actual reason for pushing him back was to allow Michael Fulmer two starts before the All-Star break.
But it had a side benefit for Norris, too — an extra day to clear away any lingering demons from a forgettable month of June.
“I’ve been working on a lot of things and I think I just have to simplify it,” Norris said after his last start in which he gave up a couple of mammoth home runs and didn’t survive the fifth inning. “Just go out and throw the baseball. I’ve been thinking about it too much right now. I’ve got to trust my stuff and get ahead of guys and put them away when I can.”
That, as manager Brad Ausmus said, is what the team has been preaching to him for two years.
“He wants to be so good so fast,” Ausmus said. “We’ve always told him, ‘If you can get out of your own way, you could be really good — you’ve got the stuff.’ But sometimes it’s easier said than done.”
Norris has given up 10 runs in his last 9.2 innings. In the month of June, he gave up 18 runs and had a 1.65 WHIP in 24.2 innings. Also odd, he’s had trouble with left-handed hitters all year — .301, .603 slugging.
“The main thing is being able to repeat his delivery and release point,” Ausmus said. “When your release point is all over the place, you can’t repeat your pitches and you can’t control your pitches.”
Looming for Norris is the possibility of a get-well stint in Toledo, where left-hander Matthew Boyd continues to pitch extremely well. But that is a topic Ausmus won’t discuss publicly.
“Talking about that isn’t going to unclutter his head,” he said. “So, I am not going to talk about that.”
Extra start for Fulmer
After his last start, an 8.2-inning gem against the Royals, Fulmer came to Ausmus with the idea of moving up his next start one day.
“He came to us and said he’d rather go twice before the break, as opposed to going once and then having a long layoff,” Ausmus said. “We thought about it for about 10 seconds and said, ‘Yeah, that’s a pretty good idea.’”
Thus, Fulmer started and beat the Giants Tuesday, and Norris will pitch Wednesday. Fulmer will also start Sunday night in Cleveland, the last game on the MLB schedule before the All-Star break.
The possible downside to it: Fulmer may not be available to pitch in the All-Star game, depending how long and how stressful his outing is Sunday night in Cleveland.
“We will communicate with Major League Baseball,” Ausmus said. “One, if we don’t want him throwing and two, if he did pitch in the game, what would be the pitch count. We will do that Sunday night — a little late, but we can’t control that.”
Fulmer presently is the Tigers’ lone representative in the All-Star game.
Miguel Cabrera noticed an all-too-familiar tightness in his right lower back and hip area before the game.
“It’s the same tightness he had before,” Ausmus said of the back tightness that kept Cabrera out for three games in May.
Cabrera tried to play through it. He singled in the fourth inning, went from first to third on a single to right field by Victor Martinez and scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Castellanos. But after he flew out in the sixth, he let discretion be the better part of valor.
Andrew Romine replaced him in the seventh.
“Right before that last at-bat he felt it tighten up again,” Ausmus said. “I would be shocked if he wasn’t available tomorrow.”
Cabrera, speaking briefly to MLB.com, said the same thing – he expects to be able to play Wednesday night.
Around the horn
There could be an outfield shuffle coming soon. Alex Presley (concussion) was cleared for baseball activity before the game Tuesday. He is out of the protocol. The Tigers will soon have to make a decision whether to activate him or send him to Toledo. Matt den Dekker is currently serving as the fourth outfielder.
… Jim Adduci (oblique) is continuing on his rehab assignment in Toledo. He has accrued 25 at-bats (with four hits) in Toledo. The Tigers want him to get between 40-50. He has made two starts in center field, as well.
Giants at Tigers
First pitch: 7:10 Wednesday, Comerica Park, Detroit
LHP Ty Blach (5-5, 4.60), Giants: It’s been feast or famine for him: seven starts allowing two runs or less, including two shutouts; and three games of seven or more runs allowed. He’s a soft-tosser, who in recent starts has relied on his four-seam fastball (90 mph) and change-up combination.
LHP Daniel Norris (4-6, 5.00), Tigers: He is glad June is in his rear-view — 18 runs, 1.650 WHIP in 26.2 innings. A brutal month. He’s had trouble with left-handed hitters all year (.301, .603 slugging), which seems inconceivable. Another rocky outing may earn him a ticket to Triple-A Toledo.