Mother Nature has not been kind to the Detroit Tigers — really all northern-based clubs — to open the 2018 Major League Baseball season. A third postponed game due to weather results in yet another rotation shuffle. This time, it is Daniel Norris likely paying the biggest price.
Norris was scheduled to make his first start of the season on Wednesday in the series finale at home against the Kansas City Royals. However, the Tigers decided to postpone the game due to the ongoing winter-like conditions driving through Michigan. The two teams will reschedule the game for April 20 as part of a day-night doubleheader at Comerica Park.
The Tigers have also reportedly decided to skip Norris’ start entirely rather than just have him go on Thursday in Chicago when Detroit begins a weekend series against the White Sox. Instead, they will have Jordan Zimmermann stay on his regular schedule and make his second start of 2018 on Thursday.
Detroit will have Norris available in the bullpen for the first two games of the series with the White Sox on Thursday and Saturday. However, it is very likely that starter Mike Fiers will be activated from the disabled list on Sunday to make his first start. That would mean making a roster move to accommodate bringing back Fiers and all signs point to Norris being optioned to the minors.
Norris’ spot in the rotation grew increasingly shaky throughout the offseason when the team signed Fiers in early December. He effectively lost his starting role with the Tigers when the team then signed veteran Francisco Liriano early during spring training. Liriano made his season debut on Tuesday, allowing just one earned run over 6.2 innings to lead Detroit to a 6-1 victory over the Royals.
Fortunately for the Tigers, Norris still has one option year remaining, meaning he can freely be exchanged the majors and minors throughout the season without being exposed to waivers.
Detroit (the team and the city) has to endure some less-than-ideal playing conditions throughout their first five games, playing in the frigid cold. Wednesday’s game against Kansas City was called hours before first pitch after it had snowed throughout Michigan in the morning hours. The team will hit the road for the first time in 2018 this weekend when they travel to Chicago then to Cleveland next week.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire talked about the decision to postpone Wednesday’s game, trying to tough out Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to the Royals and having to play the first couple weeks or so in chilly conditions.
“We talked to (the Royals) players,” Gardenhire said. “Their reps over there said, ‘Anything you can do to work this thing out is great.’
“We played in it yesterday and that was a rough one. That was a tough one to get through.”
“It’s not going to be pretty. We’re just going to have to deal with it,” Gardenhire said.
Detroit and Chicago will play the first of three games on Thursday, first pitch is tabbed for 4:10 p.m. ET.