Detroit Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris to serve as 16th starting pitcher this season

·5 min read

For the 16th time this season, the Detroit Tigers will have a new starting pitcher. He is scheduled to take the mound Friday against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The name is familiar: Daniel Norris.

Norris pitched for the Tigers from 2015-21 and returned to the organization in late July on a minor-league contract. After three starts for Triple-A Toledo, the 29-year-old is coming back to the majors as a starting pitcher.

"He's very excited come back," manager A.J. Hinch said.

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Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris throws against Cleveland during the eighth inning of the Tigers' 5-2 loss on Thursday, May 27, 2021, at Comerica Park.
Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris throws against Cleveland during the eighth inning of the Tigers' 5-2 loss on Thursday, May 27, 2021, at Comerica Park.

At last year’s trade deadline, the Tigers traded Norris to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitching prospect Reese Olson. Norris, a nine-year MLB veteran, signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs on March 19 but was released July 22.

When Norris inked a minors deal with the Tigers, he expressed his desire to become a starting pitcher again. He started 82 of 97 games in MLB from 2014-19 before starting just two of 97 games from 2020-22.

The Tigers were on board with Norris' idea.

"It's been quite a year for him," Hinch said. "He lost the strike zone early trying to do a lot of different things and avoid hard contact, avoid home runs. He started chasing his own tail a little bit. When he got released and came over here, he was committed to being over the strike zone."

For the Mud Hens, Norris posted a 2.08 ERA with two walks and five strikeouts over 8⅔ innings in three starts. He last took the mound Sunday, throwing 44 pitches (30 strikes), completing four scoreless innings and allowing one hit and zero walks with three strikeouts.

"He started to throw more strikes," Hinch said. "His slider has been pretty good. His changeup has always been good. He says his body feels the best it's felt. I said, 'Listen, we have a small opportunity for you. Take it and run with it.' He was excited to get the call."

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The Tigers have rolled out 15 starters so far: Tarik Skubal (21 starts), Beau Brieske (15), Alex Faedo (12), Michael Pineda (10), Drew Hutchison (nine), Eduardo Rodriguez (eight), Rony García (eight), Tyler Alexander (seven), Garrett Hill (six), Elvin Rodriguez (five), Matt Manning (four), Joey Wentz (two), Casey Mize (two), Bryan Garcia (two) and Wily Peralta (one).

Before Friday's start, Norris must join the 26-man and 40-man rosters. The Tigers will make roster moves after Thursday's game.

The latest on Miguel Cabrera

Once again, the Tigers have lightened Miguel Cabrera's workload.

The 39-year-old will play the first game of every series for the next two series. Cabrera will start at designated hitter Friday against the White Sox and one of the games in Monday's doubleheader against the Guardians. He is also slated to play Wednesday against the Guardians before Thursday's off day.

"It's just been more of a mapped-out schedule," Hinch said. "He's doing a little bit better. But he understands. I told him we'd reevaluate what that schedule looks like once we get to the off day on the 18th."

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Cabrera, a 20-year MLB veteran, is batting .139 and slugging .203 in 23 games since July 8. He has a .268 batting average with four home runs in 93 games this season.

Michael Pineda to begin rehab assignment

Right-hander Michael Pineda (right tricep tightness) completed a simulated game Wednesday at Comerica Park. He warmed up in the outfield, prepared in the bullpen under the watchful eye of pitching coach Chris Fetter and took the mound.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Pineda (38) pitches during the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Pineda (38) pitches during the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.

Utility player Kody Clemens, second baseman Jonathan Schoop and bullpen catcher Jeremy Carroll were the batters.

Next, Pineda will begin a rehab assignment in Toledo.

"He'll have a minimum of two games to build himself up and make sure his endurance is good enough to get through at least five innings," Hinch said. "That's the initial plan. Best laid plans don't always go perfectly.

"He definitely was interested in pitching in the big leagues and working his way back and building up here, but we're not going to do that."

The Tigers placed Pineda, who signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract in March, on the injured list July 24 with right tricep tightness, after elbow pain forced him to exit his July 23 start against the Minnesota Twins. The 33-year-old has a 5.27 ERA with six walks and 23 strikeouts over 42⅔ innings in 10 starts.

Austin Meadows returns to games

Outfielder Austin Meadows (left and right Achilles strains) competed Wednesday in the first game of his rehab assignment. He severed as the designated hitter for Triple-A Toledo, played all 10 innings and stepped to the plate six times.

The 27-year-old finished 2-for-6 with two RBIs and two strikeouts.

"We all said to him when he was here that we need him back, need his presence and need his bat," Hinch said. "It could be in the outfield; it could be at DH. Getting him through his first game, six at-bats, was good to see. I like to see his name in a box score and not on a rehab chart."

In the 10th inning, Meadows faced left-hander Sam Freeman with runners on second and third base. He singled to left field for a walk-off single and a 8-7 victory for the Mud Hens against the Omaha Storm Chasers at Fifth Third Field in Toledo.

Meadows hasn't played for the Tigers since June 15.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Daniel Norris names starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers on Friday