Detroit — Daniel Norris is in a good place right now.
It’s not that he’s fully content. He’s going to make a spot start in the second game of the doubleheader Friday, but he’s not in the Tigers rotation. And that’s where he wants to be.
Still, everything is tranquilo.
That he’s been pitching in long relief and making spot starts this season isn’t chafing him like it might have the last couple of years. There has seemingly been, on his part, more of an acceptance of things that are beyond his direct control.
“It’s definitely been my mindset this year; just try to make the best of whatever situation I’m put into,” he said before the game Wednesday. “As where last year I tried to control everything I could. I’m just not going to fall into that trap this year. Baseball doesn’t like it when you try to control it.”
Manager Ron Gardenhire has seen that emotional shift in Norris this season.
“Listen, when you are in the big leagues, it’s a lot easier to make sense out of everything and feel better about it than being somewhere else,” Gardenhire said. “He wants to be in the big leagues and he’s in the big leagues.”
But Norris’ resolve might soon be tested. The Tigers aren’t going to carry an extra pitcher (13 instead of 12) for much longer. And, organizationally, the Tigers are thin in starting pitching, particularly at Triple-A Toledo where relievers Warwick Saupold and Blaine Hardy are holding rotation spots.
Either Norris or Chad Bell could be returned to Triple-A
“We are trying to get this thing righted, to where we are using (Norris) correctly,” Gardenhire said. “We all said you have to have starting pitching and he’s one of them. We will see how it goes along.
“We are getting him in (on Friday), but we will see after that. I just think we need him stretched out and pitching. Not sitting so much.”
Norris has made just two appearances this season. He threw 49 pitches in 31/3 innings on April 5 and, six days later, threw 64 pitches in three innings. By Friday, it will have been nine days between outings.
Gardenhire would like to see Norris in a situation where he’s starting every five days so he can be ready when needed in Detroit.
“We are going to need starting pitching as we go along this summer,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve already seen that. These are conversations we’re going to have. We’ll talk to the bosses and do the right thing here to make sure he’s prepared when we really need him to get into the rotation.
“I’ve said that from the get-go. It’s been kind of a bumpy ride but we got him going Friday and we will go from there.”
Most likely, Norris will be on a pitch count Friday.
“I am guessing he should be somewhere around 75 or 80 pitches, if we can get there,” Gardenhire said. “It depends on how efficient he is. If he has those hard innings, it makes a big difference.”
Norris said he’s been throwing 50-pitch bullpens in between outings.
“I should be good,” Norris said. “I don’t know if they’ll have me on a pitch count or not. Hopefully I can give us some length. I’m excited to get back out there and tap back into a starting routine.”