Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris got a major assist from an old friend as he worked his way back up from core surgery.
Former Tiger Justin Verlander helped him out with his struggles from afar, and had a unique perspective to offer since he went through the same thing a few years back.
“He’s a good human,” Norris said. “That’s first and foremost. He’s an amazing friend.”
“When he found out I was having that surgery, which was very similar to his, he would check in periodically,” Norris said. “He would give me almost pointers on what to expect.”
Verlander had core surgery in 2014, and struggled with the same kind of issues with self-doubt and mechanical problems such as velocity drop.
“It just doesn’t come back right away; it’s not there,” Verlander said on Monday while in the visitor’s dugout before his Houston Astros took on the Tigers. “For me, to have that surgery, opened my eyes to how I need to prepare myself to take care of my body to allow myself to be successful for the rest of my career. I’ve made major adjustments since then. I’m sure (Norris) has as well.”
Norris noticed a drop in his fast ball velocity, despite throwing as hard as he was able.
“There were so many times during rehab last year when I was so upset, banging my head against the wall,” Norris said. “And there were times where I was like, ‘I might never pitch again.’
“I was two months out of surgery and had a setback. I was like, ‘What the heck? I’m doing everything I can to get back.’”
“What the heck is wrong with me?” Norris wondered.
“In ’15, 16, ’17, my average fastball was 94,” Norris said. “And now, it’s been 90 for the better part of a year and a half. It’s something that is stripped from you….(Verlander) went through the same freakin’ thing.”
Norris has worked himself back into form, just as Verlander said that he would.
“That’s big,” Norris said. “He told me it takes time to learn but learn how to pitch through it. I have definitely found solace from him, through this rehab process.”