Stressed early, Norris shows maturity late

Stressed early, Norris shows maturity late

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Now Daniel Norris has an idea what it would've felt like to be part of Home Alone and Home Alone 2.

When he started last week against the Yankees in Tampa, he drove on his own and beat the traffic jam that slowed the Tigers bus until less than an hour before his first pitch. On Thursday, Norris again left ahead of the team while the Tigers took batting practice in Lakeland, this time stuck in an Interstate 4 backup on the way to Walt Disney World.

Norris was in the clubhouse waiting for teammates, the last of whom didn't arrive until close to 12:30 p.m. ET for what was scheduled to be a 1:05 p.m. start. First pitch was pushed back about 10 minutes to give the Tigers time.

"It's not their fault. It's just traffic," Norris said. "But it's my whole career, you get this routine. I'm usually pretty laid back, but when you get thrown off that, you start freaking out."

Norris settled down, just as he did after giving up a run in each of the first two innings. For that, he was happiest about his start Friday, lasting 4 2/3 innings and 63 pitches in the 5-3 Tigers win.

Norris kept his composure, trusted the pitches he had and got back into his rhythm after early trouble. That was what made him proud.

"Two years ago, maybe even at some point last year, that game, I'm out in the second inning and there's five, six runs on the board, just because I let it affect me and I give up a couple hits and the pitch count's up," Norris said. "I think I'm really starting to grow and mature in that aspect. Just because they score a run in the first doesn't mean that they're going to score again. You can still accept the challenge in the right way."

Norris gave up three consecutive singles in the first inning before retiring Nick Markakis and striking out Tyler Flowers. Two more singles put him in trouble in the second inning before he held the damage to a run. After a walk and a single in the third, Norris not only ended the threat, he retired the final seven batters he faced.

The only issue nearly that chased him was a click in his hip that concerned catcher James McCann enough to call for manager Brad Ausmus with two outs in the fourth. But Norris was OK.

He lasted 4 2/3 innings despite six hits. All four strikeouts were on fastballs.

"He pitched well," Ausmus said.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.