Orioles manager Buck Showalter maintained confidence in Norris after the game, saying he believes Norris will do good things for the Orioles this year – and pointing out there is still a second half of the season remaining. You have to wonder when Showalter and the Orioles take Norris out of the rotation, but the manager is suggesting it won’t be this week.
For his part, Norris was outstanding post-game Monday, when he stood at his locker and took responsibility for the loss and for his rough stretches on the mound. And he was brutally honest about some things.
Yes, he admitted, his confidence may be shaken some by this first half.
“Probably a little bit. This game is very humbling. I’ve played for a long time now and am blessed to have played for as long as I have,” he said. “I know what I have, I know what I can do and I’m excited to just keep working through it. And I know these guys have really been pushing me and keep patting me on the butt and that’s really encouraging, too.”
No, he’s not worried about the young starting pitchers who are knocking on the door – Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson – for his rotation spot.
“I try not to. Buck’s given me confidence to go out there and do my job. I think he really knows what kind of guy I am and so I think that says a lot,” Norris said. “But I can’t worry about what’s behind me. I just want to help those guys. We’ve got some really good young talent coming through, and I had a lot of fun in spring training helping those guys.”
The idea of Norris trying to do too much in his pending free-agent year is always the elephant in the clubhouse. And though that question wasn’t asked directly Monday, Norris addressed it a little bit, too.
“I don’t know where my future’s gonna take me,” Norris said. “All know is I can handle what’s in front of me right now and trying to work through this is the No. 1 priority and getting back out there and helping my team win games. Because I feel once I get No. 3 (win) I think I can really go from there and turn this thing around.”
Norris is an interesting character. He’s plenty confident – bordering on cocky. But there is an underlying sense that he is first a team player. He does want to win. He does want to be a contributing member of this club – and that takes precedent over a big payday this offseason. Showalter echoed that Monday night.
“Bud wants to win every game, too,” Showalter said. “He understands the competitive part of it and nobody wants to do it more than Bud.”
Perhaps the most interesting comments came from pitching coach Dave Wallace, who clearly remembers the second half of last year when Norris was 8-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 13 starts.
“I think sometimes he’s pressing too hard, trying to be perfect all the time. He’s a high-anxiety guy and he tries to put the horse before the carriage and get everything done and he gets all worked up about stuff instead of relaxing. So you’ve got to just relax and let your natural ability take over. I think that’s more of what he’s got to do and he knows it. It’s on him,” Wallace said.
“I think he’s trying to get back to what he was. And he’s not there yet. He is getting there. We hope he does, but it’s a process. I think sometimes you’ve just got to get out of your own way.”