The former Science Hill High School star was at RBI Tri-Cities on Saturday for his sixth annual “Art of Pitching” clinic. It came one day after he was re-signed by the Detroit Tigers for a one-year $2.96 million deal.
While it went down to the last minute, Norris had little worry about a deal getting done.
“I was happy to get it out of the way,” Norris 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. After being on the injured list every season after coming to Detroit from the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, the Tigers had him in limited action late in the season.
Drafted 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,” he said. “I’m excited about that, building on last year.”
Although he posted the career highs, the 2019 season was a struggle for Norris and the rest of the Tigers staff. With little run support, Norris posted a 3-13 record despite recording a career-high 125 strikeouts. He had a 4.49 earned run average, giving up 154 hits and 38 walks against the 610 batters he faced.
Detroit, which finished 47-114, scored a league-worst 582 runs. Four American League teams scored over 900 runs, including the New York Yankees with a major-league leading 943 runs.
“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.”
Norris has a career record of 15-30 with 382 strikeouts and a 4.54 ERA. While focused on the present, the offseason has given him a little time to reflect on his career so far.
He has already surpassed the 5.6 year average career of a Major League player.
“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.”
He remains passionate about the clinic, which is hosted by his 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 clinic.
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.”