Norris, Anibal take field during catch sessions

Norris, Anibal take field during catch sessions

KANSAS CITY -- Tigers starter Daniel Norris' right oblique injury was bad enough when he first suffered it last road trip that sneezing was a painful experience.

"The first couple days, I would sneeze and it hurt so bad I wanted to cry," the left-hander said. "I came in one day and I was like, 'OK, I sneezed today and I didn't feel it.'"

It seems difficult to believe somebody could -- or should -- go from excruciating sneezes to pain-free pitches in a few weeks. For now, though, it's looking feasible, and the Tigers are willing to give Norris a chance to rehab his way toward pitching again this season.

Norris played catch on the field before Tuesday's game against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, throwing 25 times from 60 feet away and 35 more from a shorter build-up distance. Norris geared up for the last 10 throws, he said, and felt some stretching, but nothing sore or painful.

"Norris is actually a little ahead of schedule," manager Brad Ausmus said before the opener of a three-game series. "He's coming along quicker than anticipated."

If Norris continues that path, he could make an easy decision for the Tigers to pitch him again before the season ends, rather than shut him down. But they're not going to press it.

"A couple more starts, I don't know if that's going to be earth shattering," Ausmus said, "but I'd much rather have him back than not."

Norris said he'll leave the decision up to team officials, but said he'd like another appearance or two for peace of mind as much as anything.

"Even if I don't pitch again, just knowing I can go into the offseason healthy and not really miss any workouts or anything, that feels good for me," he said. "But I hope to pitch again."

Said pitching coach Jeff Jones: "A lot of times a guy gets hurt and leaves at the end of the season and he hasn't pitched again, there is doubt in his mind."

Anibal Sanchez also played catch on Tuesday, but at a lighter pace. Ausmus called the right-hander's session OK.

"When I say he's OK, he didn't have pain," Ausmus said.

Sanchez appears to be behind the originally released plan that called on him to miss two or three weeks while his rotator cuff strain recovered.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.