By Dave Ongie, News Editor
Johnson City native Daniel Norris arrived at the annual pitching camp he puts on for local youngsters at RBI Tri-Cities last Saturday morning in as good of a place as he’s been in a while.
For starters, Norris, a former standout at Science Hill High School, is fully healthy this offseason for the first time in a long time. Secondly, the ink was barely dry on a one-year contract extension worth just south of $3 million that will keep him with the Detroit Tigers for another season. And finally, Norris is excited about some moves the Tigers have made during the offseason that could bolster an offense that struggled to score runs last season.
Norris said he is certainly excited to enter the 2020 season with momentum.
“It’s my first healthy offseason in a while, so it’s good to just jump right into training instead of rehabbing something,” he said. “I’ve been excited about that, just building on last year.”
And there is plenty to build on following a 2019 season that saw Norris set career highs for games (32) and starts (29). Despite the fact that the Tigers limited his innings late in the season, getting into a solid routine of starting on a regular basis for the first time in his big-league career allowed him to find his rhythm.
“That’s huge, that you can build off your starts instead of start, stop, go,” Norris said. “You can kind of cruise and gradually go up and up. That’s what we all want, and I think I benefited from that last year.”
Baseball is a game of ups and downs, and Norris has certainly battled through his share of adversity. He survived a brush with thyroid cancer in 2015 and has battled through injury for the better part of his career.
But through it all, Norris said he feels blessed to be able to do what he does, and he hopes to do it for a long time.
“I’m just fortunate to be doing what I’m doing, but I’ve never been one that’s been satisfied,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to be in the league as long as I have, but I want to keep going.”