Norris upbeat he won't miss much time

Left-hander hurt back after falling while doing box jumps

Norris upbeat he won't miss much time

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Daniel Norris wants to make the best out of a rough situation, a trait that helped him pitch last summer through thyroid cancer. And what he learned about the spinous process in his back over the last day or two since being diagnosed with three non-displaced fractures makes him upbeat he won't miss much time.

"It'll heal pretty quickly on its own," the Tigers' young left-hander said Friday morning, "but with the medication, that'll help the inflammation and muscle spasms."

Still, the fact that a fall while doing box jumps in the weight room essentially ended his quest for an Opening Day roster spot left him second-guessing himself.

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"It was a freak accident," Norris said. "I've played it over in my head a million times. … I'm extremely disappointed, but just got to work hard to get back."

The fall actually took place March 15, the day after Norris made his third start of the spring against the Mets. The upbeat personality in him had him noting that he broke a record. Still, the fall on his back had him worried, even as he bounced up and said he was fine. When Norris tried to play catch later that day, he realized he had done something.

Norris had four days to get ready for his scheduled start last Saturday against the Marlins in Jupiter.

"Honestly, every day I was feeling a little bit better," Norris said, "and then Friday in Jupiter, [Fla.], I went down a day early, got off the bus and I couldn't even throw that day."

The Tigers pushed him back three days until Tuesday. He faced six Blue Jays batters and was pulled.

"Again, I thought I could pitch and so I went out there first batter and felt fine," Norris said. "But after a few pitches, it started locking up on me. I just couldn't get the ball down with authority. As soon as I extended, it was locked up."

It could have been much worse, Norris acknowledges, but he was encouraged by the advice of the back specialist he saw Thursday. While the fractures could take weeks to heal, he can pitch during the healing process as long as any pain is tolerable.

Norris will begin the season on the disabled list. He won't pick up a ball again until Tuesday, once he's finished with medication to reduce the swelling in his back.

"And then after that, it's pretty much according to how I feel," Norris said. "I mean, from my standpoint, I've gotta be honest. I can't try to push through it like I have been, because I was kind of delaying my timetable, I guess."

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.