Norris wants fans to know this Bud's for them

Orioles fans had a chance to watch Bud Norris pitch last season.

Or they didn't.

Technically, Norris wore an Orioles uniform after the July 31 trade with the Astros. He made nine starts and two relief appearances. But it wasn't the real Norris.

The Orioles scratched him from a September start against the Blue Jays because of elbow soreness, a condition that hindered him over that final month. He was Norris, but he wasn't quite right.

Does he feel as though Orioles fans haven't really seen him yet?

"I absolutely believe that 100 percent," he replied Saturday during FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center. "I came over in a whirlwind. It was a crazy time for me in my career and I was excited for it, but to really have this offseason to refresh my mind and everything else and take care of those nagging things I had at the end of the season, I'm really excited to show this team and this city what I can do.

"I've worked hard the last couple years in Houston and I can't wait to bring it to the AL East, which obviously is going to be amazingly tough baseball, but I feel really ready to go. And to get on those back fields, I'll be excited."

Norris went 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA for the Orioles after posting a 3.93 ERA in 21 starts with the Astros. He had a 1.678 WHIP after the trade.

What did Norris learn about pitching in the American League East?

"There's a lot," he said. "Slower game, slower pace, I think is something you really have to put in your arsenal. You have to be mentally strong in those situations to know that stuff's going to go on. But slowing the game down is something you can teach anybody at any time. But the fact of the matter is, we've got to go out there and play 60 feet six inches and believe in what you've got.

norris-with-glove-pitching-white-sidebar.jpg"I'm going to keep learning, working with (Matt) Wieters and guys like that who have been around and know the division as well as they do. That's obviously a great resource behind the plate."

The defense is a great comfort for any pitcher on the staff.

"Exactly," Norris said. "The defense and the offense. You can talk about it all day because that's what we do. It makes our job a little easier, but at the same token, we're going to go out there and just pitch and do our part for the team.

"Those guys, having the fielding percentage they had last year and the things that they've done, it just gives you that confidence to go out and get ground balls and get some outs."

As presently constructed, the rotation likely would have Norris slotted as the fourth starter behind Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, though there's always a chance of him moving up. He could drop to fifth if the Orioles sign a veteran starter.

He's heard the talk that they need one.

"Really, we can't control that," he said. "We've just got to go out there and know we put in the work in the offseason to make that rotation."

A veteran could assist the staff in the teaching aspect.

"You can never stop learning," Norris said. "You're never going to have this game figured out completely, so to have anybody who can step in and give us the information that we can use for our own careers and so forth ... I'll give my little words of wisdom for these guys. They're going to teach me a thing or two along the way.

"That's what a staff does, that's what a five-man rotation does. Every other night they sit there and watch the games and pick each other's brains. We can learn from each other."

Kevin Gausman will try to crack that rotation, a challenge that grows if the Orioles make the expected move and sign another starter.

Norris stood beside Gausman Saturday in a duel interview. By comparison, the 28-year-old Norris was the grizzled veteran.

"He's going to go down to camp, I'm going to go down to camp and work hard to get in that rotation," Norris said. "Buck (Showalter) has got to make five tough decisions, but we've been there before and we know what we want to do. We're just going to go to work and get it done."

Said Gausman: "I know, obviously, there's going to be a lot of competition and I think that's good. My first spring training was last season, and you kind of go in there and you watch guys throw, and it's definitely competitive. And this year's not going to be any different. I think it makes guys work a lot harder and kind of sets the standards pretty high."

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