Showalter on decision to start Norris in Game 3

DETROIT - The Orioles are taking batting practice this afternoon at Comerica Park while also braving the cold. Temperatures have dipped into the 40s and players are wearing hooded sweatshirts.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette is sporting the Orioles wool cap that was given to fans at a recent game.

We learned today that Bud Norris will start Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. Manager Buck Showalter indicated yesterday that Miguel Gonzalez would take the mound, saying, “It would be fairly safe if you were a prognosticator.” However, the final decision was made following a 7-6 win in Game 2, with many factors coming into play.

norris-with-glove-pitching-white-sidebar.jpgAmong those factors are the availability of Norris to work out of the bullpen if Game 5 is necessary and how the right-hander hasn’t pitched since Sept. 24 in the Bronx. Showalter doesn’t want him going too long between outings.

Also, Norris is 12-4 with a 2.99 ERA in 20 starts at night this season and 3-4 with a 5.57 ERA in eight starts during the day. Game 3 is set to begin at 3:45 p.m. - still in the daytime, but later than possible 12:07 p.m. and 1:37 p.m. starting times on Monday if Game 4 is necessary.

“It wasn’t really a change,” Showalter said while meeting with the beat reporters in his office. “We gave you the options we had. One, because wait and see how the first two games went and that gives us an opportunity to bring Bud back in Game 5. Once we found out the starting times, we didn’t know that until after the game yesterday, we still don’t know completely, but we know it won’t be after 1:37 p.m.

“We didn’t need Bud as much in the bullpen tomorrow. It’s one of the reasons we kind of held off on a lot of it. We wanted to wait this time of year, some of the things that happened in the game, what that means will happen in further games comes into play. Of our starting pitchers, I think Miguel is probably our last option out of the ‘pen, too. We also are waiting to look at the weather, too.”

Showalter conceded that a possible three-hour difference between start times in Games 3 and 4 factored into the decision.

“That’s one of the many things that we look at,” Showalter said, leaving no stone unturned. “He will tell you all it doesn’t matter. 12:07, that’s one of the reasons we like Wei-Yin (Chen) there for three innings until it got later. Certain guys respond to that better. This time of year, there doesn’t seem to be this that much complaining about it, because with the off-days, you’re just getting to bed earlier.”

Showalter met with pitching coach Dave Wallace following yesterday’s win and finalized their plans for Norris and Gonzalez, who would start Game 4 if necessary.

“We had talked about it a little bit before the game. Let’s wait and see how this goes,” Showalter said. “In the best-case scenario, we’d be able to pitch Bud or not be able to pitch Bud in Game 3, but there are so many scenarios in Games 1 and 2, I wanted to make sure Miggy was preparing himself. This means Miggy takes a good work day today, which he needs, and he’ll pitch the day after tomorrow and we’ll head home.”

Asked whether a lowered sense of urgency to win Game 3 with the Orioles up 2-0 in the series also was a consideration, since Norris hasn’t pitched in the playoffs during his career, Showalter replied, “There are a lot of factors that we considered, and you guys are sharp enough to think along with us, but I’m not going to lend any credence to that.

“We try to take in all the factors and look at background and track record. It’s kind of like (Kevin) Gausman. You don’t know how a puppy’s going to bite until you put him on that stage. There’s only one way to find out.”

Showalter said the decision to start Norris in Game 3 and Gonzalez in a possible Game 4 has nothing to do with possible matchups in the American League Championship Series. He shot down that one pretty hard.

Norris is 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA in four starts against the Tigers, and 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in two starts at Comerica Park, allowing 12 runs and 18 hits in 10 innings.

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