by Don Drysdale
With the 2017 Detroit Tigers season upon us it is time to take in all the majesty that is Detroit Tigers baseball. Detroit Sports Nation editors Alex Muller and Don Drysdale give their thoughts on what the new season will hold for Tigers fans. (Read more analysis at detroitsportsnation.com.)
Tigers fans are well aware of who Daniel Norris is and what he is capable of becoming as a starting pitcher. They know his story about living out of a van, and they most certainly know how he continued to play baseball in 2015, despite dealing with thyroid cancer.
By the time the 2017 season is in the books, the rest of the nation will also know who Norris is as well. But it will not be because of his story, but because of his dominance on the mound.
Norris, 23, was originally selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He remained in the Jays organization until July 30, when he was traded to the Tigers in a deal that sent David Price to Toronto. Just a few days after becoming a Tiger, Norris got the attention of the fans when the gave up just one run in 7 1/3 innings against the Baltimore Orioles.
But in 2016, things did not go as planned, with Norris beginning the season on the disabled list. He dealt with injuries for most of the year and finished with a 4-2 record and a 3.38 ERA. When he was able to pitch, he showed flashes of brilliance, including striking out 11 batters in 6 1/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins in mid-September. Though he was only able to toss just over 69 innings last season, it became apparent that Norris had the chance to be something special.
Fast-forward to the present day and Norris is now expected to become a fixture in the starting rotation. In order for the Tigers to get to where they want to go, he will have to stay healthy and have solid production for a full season. Manager Brad Ausmus currently has Norris scheduled to start the Tigers third game when they take on the Chicago White Sox on April 6, which shows the confidence Ausmus has in his young left-handed pitcher.
The time for Norris to take the next step in his progression on the baseball field is now. General manager Al Avila has said the Tigers will be working to cut payroll moving forward, which means there is no guarantee that the core of the current roster will be together much longer than this coming season. Because of that, it is crucial that Norris lives up to the hype immediately and helps get the Tigers back to the playoffs and hopefully to the World Series.
But Norris is quiet and reserved and is the last person who will ever tell you how great he is as a pitcher. Instead, he is the type of player who is focused on doing his job to the best of his ability and moving on to the next day. In 2017, his dominance on the field will be so loud that he won't even have to say a word.
The Detroit Tigers' home opener against the Boston Red Sox starts at 1:10 p.m. on Friday, April 7 at Comerica Park, 2100 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-962-4000; tigers.com.