Norris, Braves discount one horrid inning

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. – Other than getting his socks knocked off in the first inning, rocked for the second straight outing by the Detroit Tigers, receiving no aid and comfort from his defense (including himself), Sunday went pretty well for Braves starter Bud Norris.

Ah, spring, where the scoreboard is optional and forgiveness is only a few good pitches away.

So, it wasn’t the Norris who gave up five runs on six hits almost before his brow was sweaty who the Braves focused upon Sunday. It was the Norris who settled in and retired the next 11 hitters he faced before going a little haywire at the end of his shift in the fifth inning (allowing another run on his off-balance throw to first that sailed into right field).

“I saw a competitor. He came back the four innings after that and he pitched,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Norris.

“When you give up five runs in one spot you want to see how those guys come back, if it rattles them. He didn’t (rattle). He didn’t fold up his tent, kept throwing zeroes up there after first inning,” Gonzalez said.

Acquired this season in the hopes that he could rebound from a horrid 2015 and strengthen the front end of the Braves rotation, Norris was up with pitches consistently in the first inning. The Tigers feasted, the big blow in the first being Tyler Collins’ two-run triple to right.

But Norris showed no concern afterward, taking the it’s-only-spring defense.

“I need to work deep into the game. I got to 80-85 pitches (82, 55 of them strikes), that was the ultimate goal there,” Norris said. “Granted there are some runs on the scoreboard and I’m not going to worry about that right now.”

Preferring to remember the command he show with all his pitches – fastball, slider, change – Norris said, “I’m going to take the positive from it. I know I got one or two more (starts) before we get this thing going. I’m healthy, my legs are under me and that’s the priority.”

His last outing against the Tigers Norris surrendered six runs on nine hits. Added together, that’s a dozen runs and 16 hits in just 7 2/3 innings.

But Norris was the picture confidence when asked if he was growing weary of seeing Detroit.

“I’m tired of seeing the Tigers,” he said.

“I’m sure they’re tired of seeing me, too. I’ve got my post-season win against them. I won’t forget.” That was 2014, when Norris was at his peak with Baltimore. He beat the Tigers in the American League Division Series, giving up just two hits in 6 1/3 innings. You know, when the scoreboard mattered.