By: Will Burchfield
Daniel Norris sounded like someone who could use a break from baseball after yet another disappointing start on Wednesday night.
He’ll get that break in the form of a trip to the disabled list.
Brad Ausmus told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket that the Tigers are placing Norris on the D.L. with a groin injury. Blaine Hardy will take his place on the roster for the time being.
It will likely be a 10-day D.L. stint.
Norris gave up five runs for the third consecutive outing in Wednesday night’s loss to the Giants.
“He’s gonna get an MRI, he had a tight groin during the game. It didn’t affect his pitching too much, but the way we have it spaced out we’re gonna D.L. him. He wouldn’t make another start before the (All-Star) break anyway, and Blaine Hardy will come up for the next four games at least,” Aumus said.
The groin tightened up on Norris early in Wednesday’s game.
“It’s okay, doesn’t feel great but it’s something you just gotta fight through,” he said afterward.
His outing began well enough, but things began to unravel in the third inning. He finished with of line of five runs on seven hits across four innings. Ausmus said he wouldn’t have sent Norris back out for the fifth regardless of the groin issue.
“I felt pretty good the first couple innings. I think that was the same story five, six days ago, just hit a bit of a wall there between innings. Gotta do a better job of going back out there and continuing what I started,” said Norris.
The 24-year-old was visibly shaken after letting down his team once again. With a lump in his throat and a wavering voice, he invoked a Bible story and talked about how deeply he cares.
“For me, the most frustrating thing is I understand what’s at stake for this team. I just wanna go out there and win, and I’ve been doing the opposite. I know they’re frustrated, I’m frustrated. It hurts more, I guess, the more you care,” said Norris.
The Tigers are concerned that Norris is putting too much pressure on himself. Ausmus, GM Al Avila and pitching coach Rich Dubie sat him down to talk about this after Wednesday’s game.
“We just tried to emphasize that putting pressure on himself doesn’t make things easier at the big-league level. There’s enough outside pressure that putting internal pressure on yourself — I think you saw the end result of all that pressure, the emotion that he shows when he has a start like he did last night and he’s disappointed in himself,” said Ausmus.
The Tigers still have high hopes for Norris given his raw talent. But the pitcher can be his own worst enemy – a fact he admitted on Wednesday night – and often has trouble slowing down the game when the going gets tough.
With runners on second and third and one out in the top of third, Norris induced a line drive back to the mound. He panicked after picking up the ball, threw to first without checking the runner at third and handed the Giants a 1-0 lead.
“We talked specifically about that play after the game, and that’s what happens with young guys,” said Ausmus. “You put a lot of pressure on yourself and you wanna do well so quickly that the game starts to move fast in your mind and you don’t have the ability to slow it down, so you don’t realize necessarily what’s happening in front of you.
“That’s the perfect example. You get the ball hit back to him, he kind of gets flustered trying to catch the ball and forgets where the base runners are, forgets to check the base runner at third, gets the out at first but definitely should have gone home. That’s just an example of a young player allowing the game to speed up on him.”
Norris has pitched in the big leagues for parts of four seasons. His age belies his experience. But as Ausmus pointed out on Wednesday night, the learning curve, especially in regard to the mental aspect of the game, is “different for everyone.”
“He’s still very talented, albeit raw talent. His work effort is outstanding, he cares about the right things, almost cares so much about the right things that he wants to be so good so fast that it can get in his way,” said Ausmus.
This is something Norris has heard before.
“I hear it all the time that I care too much, but I’ve always been that way,” he said. “Being here is what I dreamed of, so if you don’t care about it then it’s not your biggest dream — and I’ve got big dreams.
“The thing is, I’ve had success before and I’ve had failure before, I know how to deal with it all. I’m in a bit of funk right now but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”