Norris 'champing at the bit' for first start of season for slumping O's

DETROIT — Bud Norris had to wait longer than last year to make his first of the regular season, but now that it is here, he couldn't be more psyched.

"It's a little different, but we have such a good five-man rotation that as long as I get the ball every fifth day and help the team win, I'm OK with when I pitch," said Norris, who starts Saturday at Comerica Park against the Detroit Tigers in his 2014 debut. "I'm just champing at the bit to help this team."

Norris was the Opening Day starter for the Houston Astros in 2013. This year, he's slotted as the Orioles' No. 5 starter and, subsequently, hasn't pitched against big leaguers since a Grapefruit League game March 25 in Fort Myers., Fla., against the Minnesota Twins.


"It's exciting to get back out there. It's been a little longer with the camp [layoff] and so forth," said Norris, who was acquired from the Houston Astros last July for outfielder L.J. Hoes and pitching prospect Josh Hader. "But I am excited to go play a game that I have been playing for a ling time."

Norris was 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA in 21 starts with the Astros last year and 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA in 11 games with the Orioles. He also dealt with some elbow soreness in September and said he doesn't believe the Orioles have seen the best he can offer. This spring, Norris posted a 2.65 ERA in 17 spring innings, striking out 15 batters while walking six.


"It's a new me, too," Norris said. "It's a real opportunity to prove [things] and … really help a team that's in contention be something and go forward."

The 29-year-old Norris is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against the Tigers in his career; he allowed seven earned runs in five innings in his lone start at Comerica Park.

Lombardozzi plays in Detroit after all

Lombardozzi, who spent most of spring training with the Detroit Tigers, got the start against them Friday.

"It's definitely a little weird, but at the same time it is part of the business," said Lombardozzi, who was dealt by the Tigers to the Orioles on March 24 for infielder Alex Gonzalez.

It's the second time in four months Lombardozzi has been dealt — the Tigers acquired him in December as part of a trade with the Washington Nationals for Doug Fister.

"This is my second time around now, getting traded," Lombardozzi said. "I'm a little familiar with it now."

Manfra off the air for a few weeks


Longtime radio play-by-play announcer Fred Manfra will be off the air for several weeks while he recovers from hip replacement surgery, which is scheduled for Tuesday. He'll be out through most of April, at least.

Jim Hunter, who primarily has handled pregame, postgame and some in-game telecasts for Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, will return to his radio roots and fill in for Manfra on WBAL for most of April.

During the April 22-24 road series in Toronto, however, Hunter will have TV responsibilities for MASN, so former Orioles pitcher and current MASN analyst Dave Johnson will join Joe Angel on the radio.

Around the horn

Friday's game was delayed twice by rain: for 10 minutes before the first pitch and for 34 minutes in the bottom of the fourth inning. … Tigers manager Brad Ausmus challenged a call in the fifth inning Friday, claiming that shortstop Andrew Romine had the ball long enough at second base before dropping it during a forceout. The runner was initially called safe and, after a two-minute review, the call was upheld. It was the first time there has been a challenge in an Orioles game this season. … Catcher Matt Wieters received his first game off this season. It was the club's first day game after a night game of the year. … Right-hander Kevin Gausman, who was scratched from Thursday's opener for Triple-A Norfolk in case he was needed for a doubleheader in Detroit on Saturday, was given the Tides' start Friday once the Orioles-Tigers game progressed. … Manny Machado (knee) had a "functional" day Thursday in Sarasota, Fla., Showalter said, completing all baseball activities. It went well and he also felt good on Friday, the day after his work day, Showalter said. … Right-hander Dylan Bundy (elbow) threw 30 pitches from a full mound Friday … Left-hander Johan Santana threw 35 pitches from a full mound. He is scheduled for a "situational side session" Monday, which means, in part, a hitter could stand in the batter's box. … Center fielder Adam Jones and left fielder David Lough each had outfield assists Friday, the first time the club has had multiple outfield assists in a game since August 3, 2013, versus the Seattle Mariners. The team last recorded three outfield assists in a game April 25, 2004 versus the Toronto Blue Jays. The franchise record is four set on May 13, 1970 versus the Minnesota Twins.