By Jason Beck MLB.com @beckjason
Daniel Norris will undergo surgery on his lingering left groin injury, likely sidelining the Tigers’ young left-hander for two to three months.
The decision comes after Norris left his start Sunday at Baltimore in the third inning with what was classified as left groin tightness. However, the procedure is essentially a last resort after his attempts to pitch through a groin issue since last summer.
“He wants to get it fixed,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s tired of it coming back.”
Dr. William Meyers, the Philadelphia-based core specialist who examined Norris last year and again in Spring Training, will conduct the procedure, which will relieve pressure in the groin. Surgery is scheduled for Thursday. Norris said the timetable for recovery is 8-12 weeks.
The Tigers placed Norris on the 10-day disabled list Monday. He’ll likely be moved to the 60-day DL at some point, which will open a 40-man roster spot.
It marks the fourth consecutive year that Norris has gone on the DL since the Tigers acquired him in 2015. But as frustrating as the injury bug has proved to be for Norris, and as much as he tried to avoid it with his latest injury, it was time.
“It’s not really what I envisioned going into this year, but I know it’s going to make me right,” Norris said. “I have a lot of peace about it, just because I think that this is the right decision. I know it’s the right decision, and I’ll go through the rehab and get back to being my normal self.”
Norris spent seven weeks on the DL last summer with a left groin strain, including a couple of rehab assignments over a month and a half. He returned in a relief role once rosters expanded in September before making two starts at season’s end.
Norris worked out at Peak Performance Project in the offseason to try to find a program that would keep him healthy, but the groin issue became a question again shortly after Spring Training began. He visited Meyers in Philadelphia and was cleared to pitch, but the Tigers and pitching coach Chris Bosio brought him along slowly all spring. He seemed ticketed for Triple-A Toledo until Mike Fiers‘ back injury forced him onto the DL to begin the season and opened a rotation spot.
“I just wanted to kinda get it checked out,” Norris said of the Spring Training visit. “I thought I could pitch through it. It wasn’t really any pain. It was just not firing on all cylinders there.”
Norris stayed on the Tigers pitching staff as a swingman once Fiers returned, making a couple spot starts amid rainouts and doubleheaders. But while he pitched effectively in spots, his fastball has been slower than usual all season, down from an average of 93 mph the last couple years to 88-89 mph this season. He gave up two home runs Sunday on 87-mph fastballs in Baltimore, where his delivery seemed short and hurried.
“I’ve been going out there, trying to find ways to get people out,” Norris said. “The bottom line is I’ve been grinding, finding some success here and there. But yesterday it just kind of started bothering me again.”
The worry from the Tigers’ standpoint was that if he continued to try pitching through it, especially Sunday, he could injure his arm trying to compensate for the groin injury.
Norris owns an 0-2 record and 5.87 ERA in five appearances this season, allowing 10 runs on 16 hits and nine walks but striking out 18 batters over 15 1/3 innings.
With Norris on the DL, the Tigers recalled left-hander Chad Bell from Toledo to join the bullpen for a second time this season.