"It's kind of close [in location]," Norris said, "but I don't think it's as severe as last year. It doesn't feel quite the same."
For now the Tigers are holding off on putting Norris on the DL and announced after the game that they will recall right-hander Buck Farmer from Triple-A Toledo to pitch out of the bullpen. No corresponding move was announced.
Norris, who began the season on the 15-day DL with a spinal issue, was making his second start for the Tigers since being recalled from Toledo. He gave up a run in the second inning on two doubles and a single but escaped further damage by retiring the bottom of the Cleveland lineup from there, capped by an Abraham Almonte grounder to short.
It was on the groundout that Norris seemed to sustain his injury. He made a lunging attempt at the chopper up the middle but didn't get it. The TV broadcast caught Norris heading into to the clubhouse with head athletic trainer Kevin Rand at the end of the inning, but he was back on the bench in time for the start of the third inning.
After Norris issued a leadoff walk to Rajai Davis, Rand and manager Brad Ausmus went to the mound to check on him. He didn't throw a warmup pitch before heading to the clubhouse.
"It was bothering me," he said. "They just wanted to take care of it."
Norris lasted two-plus innings, allowing two runs on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Dustin Molleken, who was recalled from Toledo before the game to provide bullpen depth when Zimmermann went on the DL, replaced Norris, making his Major League debut at age 31. He tossed two-plus innings, with a run on three hits, a walk and two strikeouts. Alex Wilson added two innings from there.
If Norris can't make his next scheduled turn, on Saturday against the Blue Jays, the Tigers could turn to fellow left-hander Matt Boyd, who made five starts this season before Norris replaced him in the rotation. Boyd started for Toledo on Sunday, so he could start on Saturday with an extra day's rest.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. 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.