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Norris hopes cortisone shot hastens return to Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — He just hoped it would be worth the pain he was about to feel.

Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris was minutes from getting an injection of cortisone into his damaged left upper leg Wednesday.

“Hopefully it helps,” he said.

Norris, on the disabled list since July 6, has been bothered by inflammation in the area of his hip labrum, causing pain and tightness in his left quad and groin — his left leg being his drive leg in his delivery.

“I was trying to pitch through it,” he said. “And I was just digging a deeper hole every time. Finally, during my last rehab start, I felt the same thing and I just decided to say something about it.”

He was brought back to Detroit where on Tuesday he had a new round of tests run. The results showed there was no tear in the hip labrum, which was the good news.

“But the inflammation was coming from there,” Norris said. “That’s what was bothering me. It’s my drive leg and I wasn’t able to really push off the rubber.”

It will be three days before Norris will be able to resume baseball activity after the injection. And manager Brad Ausmus said it would be a gradual progression to build his arm back up.

“Just a couple days and hopefully I will be able to ramp it back up,” Norris said.

At least now he has a better understanding of why he struggled so mightily in his final three starts before the All-Star break (15 runs in 13 2/3 innings over three starts).

“For me it’s been health,” he said. “I had decent numbers until the last three or four starts and then it just started to implode on me. I would feel good for two innings, three up and three down, then I’d give up a five-spot.

“I just wasn’t able to get over that hump physically.”

Like Duffy?

Norris was in the dugout Tuesday watching Royals left-hander Danny Duffy beat the Tigers. He later got a text from his mother, saying the announcers were comparing his career arc to Duffy’s.

“He and I are actually pretty close,” Norris said. “We’ve talked a lot. He’s helped me a lot throughout the years, even when I was in the minor leagues with the Blue Jays. Just talking pitching.

“I can remember when he was up and down a little bit with the Royals. I talked to him and he was kind of frustrated. He always had good stuff, it was just a matter of him walking too many guys.”

Like Norris, Duffy was toggled back and forth from Triple-A for the first few years of his big-league career. Like Norris, he struggled to harness his electric stuff and his competitive fire.

So there is a comfort in seeing how Duffy has matured.

“It’s huge,” Norris said. “This year has been up and down for me, but everybody has been coming up with these comparisons — like Cory Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Duffy, Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer.

“All those guys have, at this point in his career, were up and down, struggling up here. It’s reassuring. I don’t feel so left out. It’s just good to see that — it’s like a reference point.”

It’s what pitching coach Rich Dubee and Ausmus have repeatedly stressed to him, as well.

“Everybody goes through struggles,” Norris said. “Not too many guys come up here like Michael (Fulmer) and just hit the ground running. … Not everyone is like that. You’ve got to realize there is a process involved.”

Intellectually, Norris didn’t need to be told any of that. He knew it. But knowing it didn’t allay his frustration.

“There is a difference between frustration and depression,” Norris said. “No question I’ve been frustrated. But you get to the point where you come every day, you work hard at something. You keep checking off all the boxes and keep getting better and at some point it’s going to pay off.

“It’s going to translate to the mound.”

Around the horn

At 2 p.m. Wednesday, Miguel Cabrera was on the field taking early, early batting practice. His batting practice pitcher: manager Brad Ausmus. “Just normal work,” Ausmus said. “I did it for him a couple of years ago. It’s nothing special.” Cabrera has six hits in his last 34 at-bats.

… According to metrics, the Tigers are the 26th-worst baserunning team in the big leagues. They have a minus-11.9 rating in baserunning runs above average. Only the Astros, Blue Jays, Nationals and Mariners run the bases worse. The Diamondbacks have the best ranking in this metric — plus 20. @cmccosky