Former Tiger Daniel Norris still trying to find his footing with Brewers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — The colors were different. He was in the wrong dugout. But everything else about Daniel Norris was just as it ever was.

“It’s definitely weird being back here,” he said.

Norris, who had been with the Tigers since 2015, was traded to the Brewers on July 30 for Double-A right-hander Reese Olson. He stayed at his old place in Birmingham Monday night and went through the same pregame routines.

Since being traded from the Tigers, Daniel Norris has a 6.91 ERA in 13 game appearances with the Brewers.

He FaceTimed with Matthew Boyd on Monday, too, wishing him luck with his visit to specialist Dr. Keith Meister — which was scheduled for Tuesday.

He was also locked in on Miguel Cabrera’s chase to 500 home runs.

“I was watching it on my phone, watching it on TV,” Norris said. “Just so special to see him and see what he’s accomplished, and what he accomplished even before I got here. It was emotional watching how exciting everything was.”

The other thing that’s been the same for Norris, much to his dismay, have been the uneven results he’s getting on the mound.

“Yeah, it’s been kind of the same as when I was here,” he said. “I’ll string together a handful of really good outings and then have a blow-up outing and give up two or three runs. That part has been really frustrating.”

In 13 games with the Brewers, covering 14⅓ innings, he has allowed 11 earned runs with an uncharacteristically high 13 walks. But here’s the rub: he’s got 14 strikeouts and opponents are hitting just .196 off him.

“One thing they told me when I got here was, we didn’t trade for your ERA, we traded for your stuff,” Norris said. “That was nice to hear. As a baseball player, it’s hard not to get caught up in that. Friends will say, ‘You’re having a rough year.’ And I’ll be like, well, not really.

“It’s been a tough year, yeah, but there’s been deeper things this year that I can lean on.”

In his time with Milwaukee, his opponent batting average is a career low. The hard-hit rate (37.8%) and average exit velocity on balls in play (89.5 mph) are the lowest since 2015. His change-up remains an effective weapon for him, too, holding hitters to a .200 average with a 34% whiff rate.

Ten of the 11 earned runs have come in four outings.

“Baseball works that way sometimes,” Norris said. “I had a good year last year and this year I feel better than I did last year but I’m not getting the same results. I battle with not getting caught up in that. It's really easy to fall into that. But I do my work every day and it’s really cool to be on a winning team like this.

“That’s what I hated about leaving (the Tigers). They are a winning team. It doesn’t matter what their record is, that’s a winning team and I love to see what’s going on over there.”

Tough break

When manager AJ Hinch saw the text message was from head athletic trainer Doug Teter, he got a bad feeling in his gut.

“That’s not the kind of text you want on an off day,” he said.

Teter informed him that right-hander Jose Cisnero had cut his right elbow in an accident at his home on Monday. The cut required eight stitches and on Tuesday the Tigers placed Cisnero on the 10-day injured list.

“He slipped on his stairs at home,” Hinch said. “He slid down a couple of steps and put his arm down. He split it open on the outside of his elbow. He got eight stitches and the before and after pictures were both awful.”

Hinch said Cisnero would be shut down for a couple days to let it heal.

“It’s tough, especially for Jose who has done such a great job this year at the back end (of the Tigers’ bullpen),” Hinch said. “He’ll be out at least 10 days. I know where we are at on the calendar. We’ll just have to see where this leads.”

Despite two straight rough outings, Cisnero has been the primary setup man to Gregory Soto. He’s pitched in 67 games with 62 strikeouts in 61⅔ innings with 18 holds and four saves. He’s allowed seven of 33 inherited runners to score.

Right-hander Jason Foley was called up from Triple-A Toledo. It is his third stint with the Tigers this season.

Around the horn

Miguel Cabrera was named the Tigers' nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. The award honors a player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.

… Pitching coach Chris Fetter, quality control coach Josh Paul and bullpen catcher Jeremy Carroll were all back with the club Tuesday. They had been quarantined the previous eight days after being victims of contact tracing.

… Bench coach George Lombard, who tested positive for COVID-19 in Pittsburgh, is on track to return this weekend for the Tigers series in Tampa. The timetable isn’t as clear for relievers Joe Jimenez and Miguel Del Pozo, who also tested positive. Hinch said they are both feeling better physically, but haven’t yet started a throwing program.

Twitter: @cmccosky

Brewers at Tigers

First pitch: 1:10 p.m. Wednesday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: BSD, MLBN/97.1


RHP Brandon Woodruff (9-8, 2.48), Brewers: It’s fair to wonder how he ever lost eight games. His four-seam fastball averages 96.5 mph. He’s got 103 punch-outs with it in 239 plate appearances, and a 30% swing-and-miss rate. His curve (.141 opponent average), change-up (.189) and slider (.241) are plus pitches, too.

RHP Matt Manning (3-6, 6.14), Tigers: He had four strikeouts in three innings before he took comebacker off the inside of his knee in his last start. He didn’t miss any time between starts, though. His numbers show the difficulty of trying to develop against big-league hitters — .305/.355/.484 opponent slash-line, 91 mph average exit velocity on balls in play against him.