Norris' red-hot bat continues to boom in June

Padres catcher belts 5th homer this month to help flatten Reds

Norris' red-hot bat continues to boom in June

CINCINNATI -- Padres catcher Derek Norris didn't get off to the start he or anyone else expected. A career .243 hitter, Norris saw his average hover around .180 through most of May and ended the month hitting .179.

Since then, Norris has hit .302 in 17 games in June with five of his 10 home runs on the season. Norris continued that stretch on Thursday, belting a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning that helped the Padres earn a 7-4 win over the Reds.

"I think we always knew he was going to hit," manager Andy Green said. "You look back at guys' track records. They usually end up where they've always been within like 15 points, plus or minus. There was no point in time where you thought, 'Hey, Derek Norris is going to hit .160 this year because that's what his numbers were in May.' You knew they were going to come up. This is just him getting hot and returning to who he is and he's going to be a productive player the rest of the way for us."

Norris still isn't quite pleased with that kind of production, though. He had a hit in eight of his first 10 games in June, including five multi-hit games. It's that kind of production that Norris seeks to have on a more consistent basis.

"A couple weeks ago, I actually felt even better. I was piecing together two, three-hit games," Norris said. "I'll take a 1-for-4 with three RBIs and a home run, don't get me wrong, that's awesome. Definitely still some work to do. I still thought I had a lot of good pitches I could've hit tonight, but I keep fouling them off. But we're getting there and we'll figure out what's going on and keep improving."

A big difference for Norris has been confidence. Early in the season, he felt like he was hitting balls hard and just couldn't get them to fall.

"Sometimes you just run into those years where sometimes those hits fall, sometimes they don't," Norris said. "Just, like I've said before, just sticking with the process and not trying to go out there and get four, five hits every single night. Just going out there and you know it's 162 games, just keep at it."

Norris' resurgence has been important for a Padres lineup that leads the National League in batting average and on-base percentage in June.

"He was a guy that going in the season, we were counting on him to be a middle-of-the-order production type guy and I think you see it now," Green said. "[He's] driving the ball around the ballpark. Obviously catches very well, does a good job back there too. He's an integral part to what we do, so it's been good to see him get going."

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.