Norris, on the 15-day disabled list for the past two weeks with a right oblique strain, allowed a run on five hits over four innings for the Mud Hens, walking one and striking out four. He threw 67 pitches, a few shy of the target of 70-75 pitches the Tigers had established going in.
Within that frame, Norris threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of 18 Pawtucket batters, generated 10 swinging strikes, and reached four three-ball counts, according to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade. Norris' lone run allowed was a home run from former Major Leaguer Chris Dominguez.
"It was big for me, not having to come out early for anything," Norris said. "I felt good, finished strong."
Norris said he lobbied to take the mound for the fifth inning, but couldn't sway a decision for one more batter.
At this point, manager Brad Ausmus said, the pitch count would be a bigger question than his health as the Tigers decide whether to give Norris one more rehab start or slot him back into the Tigers' rotation this weekend against the White Sox in Chicago.
"I talked to [Norris] this morning. He felt good, velocity was good," Ausmus said.
Given the recent improved performance of left-hander Matt Boyd, the decision for this weekend could come down to Norris or Anibal Sanchez for Sunday's series finale at U.S. Cellular Field.
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.