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Tigers LHP Norris feeling good in offseason

Jeff Birchfield • Jan 12, 2020 at 12:45 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Daniel Norris is signed and ready to go for his seventh season of Major League Baseball.

The former Science Hill star was at RBI Tri-Cities on Saturday for his sixth annual Art of Pitching clinic. The appearance came one day after the Detroit Tigers re-signed him to a one-year, $2.96 million deal.

While negotiations went down to the last minute, Norris had little concern about a deal getting done.

“I was happy to get it out of the way,” he said. “I don’t think too much about it. I’m just ready to play and get it going.”

Norris, a 6-foot-2 left-hander, had career highs of 29 starts, 32 games and 144 1/3 innings pitched last season. He’s been on the injured list every season since 2015, when he arrived in Detroit from the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Tigers had him in limited action late in the season.

Selected in the second round of the 2011 MLB draft, the 26-year-old said this is the best he has felt during an offseason.

“This is my first healthy offseason in a while, so it’s nice to jump right into training instead of rehabbing something,” Norris said. “I’m excited about that, building on last year.”

The 2019 season was a struggle for Norris and the rest of Detroit’s staff. Norris received little run support and went 3-13 despite recording a career-high 125 strikeouts. He had a 4.49 ERA, allowed 154 hits and walked 38 of the 610 batters he faced.

Detroit, which finished 47-114, scored a league-worst 582 runs. Four American League teams scored over 900, including the New York Yankees with a majors-best 943.

“It’s just baseball. We’ve signed a couple of guys that I think will drive in some runs for us,” Norris said. “We’re all looking for a better year this year.”

For his career, Norris is 15-30 with 382 strikeouts and a 4.54 ERA — and he has already surpassed the 5.6-year average career for a major leaguer.

“I’m fortunate to do what I’m doing, but I’ve never been one to be satisfied,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be in the league as long as I have, but I want to keep going. I have the goals to play until I no longer can. I’m always working with those goals and that mindset.”

Norris also remains passionate about the clinic, which is hosted by former high school teammate Paul Hoilman. Former College Home Run Derby competitor Dylan Pratt, longtime pitching coach Reid Casey and Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards were some of those at Saturday’s event.

Besides the instruction, Norris gave away prizes to the participants and stayed to sign autographs and pose for photographs.

“I look forward to this every year,” Norris said. “I remember going to camps when I was younger and it’s pretty good to be able to give back in a sense.”

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