Beginning the season with the Midwest League’s Lansing Lugnuts’, the young southpaw had a slow first month, but that quickly changed after a talk with Lugnuts’ Manager John Tamargo Jr. and Pitching Coach Vince Horsman who reinstated the 20-year old’s confidence.
“I had a really bad start in Dayton where I gave up a lot of runs in the first inning and the next day Vince and JT pulled me into the office and told me I was better than that.”
“They told me they still believed in my abilities and that was a major turning point in my season. Ever since that talk I have gone out there with a different mentality. It was a really good talk.”
Norris gradually worked into a starting routine with a limited pitch count to help limit the pressure of his first full season. The move was successful as he soon became one of the Midwest League’s most dominant left-handers and earned Norris a late season promotion to the advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays.
“The pitch count was designed to help me find a routine because I’m a young player,” he said. “I would’ve liked to thrown more innings, but I have bought into their system. It’s not anything to be upset about. I just go out there and play my game every time I get the chance.”
In 2013, Norris spent five months in Lansing, posting a 1-7 record with a 4.20 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings of work. “I really liked Lansing a lot,” he said. “There’s a cool downtown area with coffee shops. That’s something I like to do in the morning before I go to the field. The city has a good lay out as well.”
With a fastball in the mid-90’s there’s no surprise that Norris was tied for second on the Lugnuts’ in strikeouts for the 2013 season.
“I’m a bulldog on the mound. I command my pitches on both sides of the plate which helps me get strikeouts.”
Making one start in Dunedin, Norris pitched a scoreless five innings earning the win in his first Florida State League game.
Norris finished 2013 with a 2-7 record, a 3.97 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 90 2/3 innings between the two teams.
He stated that his solid season can be attributed to the support and help from former major leaguer and current Lansing Lugnuts’ Pitching Coach Vince Horsman.
“Vince is unbelievable. We worked well together. We clicked and he continued to help me every outing I was in Lansing. He really knows what he’s talking about. He’s one of the best pitching coaches I’ve ever had.”
Horsman had equally as positive things to state about his starter: “Daniel had a couple tough starts early in the year, but he improved a lot over the season and I’m very pleased with that,” he said. “It was baby steps with Daniel but he progressed very well over the year and made those gradual improvements he needed to make. Now he feels like he belongs here and he can pitch at this level and that’s great to see.”
With the off-season upon us, Norris is focused on a better 2014 season as he prepares for spring training. “I’m going to spend a lot of time during this off-season working out and focusing on getting stronger and maintaining my health to have a great season.”