I still remember the day Bud Norris was scheduled to make his major league debut in St Louis. The Buzz around surrounding Norris was pretty big and Bud delivered 7 innings of 2 hit baseball, including an impressive pitching display against Albert Pujols. He would have good and bad days the remaining part of that season but the difference is night and day compared to the Norris of today. The “Astros network” moved on from Brad Mills to Bud Norris in our interview journey and asked the righthander some tough yet necessary questions about the 2012 season, how he will extend his innings count and his current status in the rotation. It was an impressive interview that showed just how much he had matured not only as a pitcher but one of the leaders of the Astros’ staff.
David from the crawfishboxes.com opened up the interview by asking Norris if he has started lobbying Mills to get an opening day start. Bud would immediately respond with a resounding yes, followed by a laugh. Norris understands that the rotation has two veteran guys that have some experience on him and is very willing to let Mills make that call. By the end of the season, I think Bud will be the ace of the staff and an opening day start may only be 1-year away.
I would follow up with a question regarding Norris’ struggles getting past that 6th or 7th inning and how he had worked, this offseason, to overcome it. Bud admitted that the mental aspect of pitching later into starts is something that needs to improve. He also acknowledged that he was effected by his surroundings too often last year and vowed to work on that this season. He also sees himself as not so young anymore, he’s expectations have risen quite a bit.
"I did make 31 starts but I just didn’t get to 200 innings. I think that’s the number Millsy and I looked down and goes if I am considered one of the best pitchers on the team I need to be on the field and pitching deeper into games."
Deputy Jason from astroscounty.com asked Bud about the workouts that have taken place during the Winter here in Houston and who impressed him from those workouts.
Bud seemed impressed by the desire and excitement the young club has displayed. Also, talked about his time this winter as a mentor for Jarred Cosart and working out with him during the offseason. He seemed truly excited about a new start in 2012 and seeing the club preform on the field.
"Now that I am taking more of the that veteran role I guess it’s my time to help the train tracks going forward."
Terri from talesfromthejuicebox.com asked Mr. Norris if the pressure of being one of the main figures in the Astros clubhouse had gotten to the righthander? Bud, as cool as ever, did admit to feeling some nerves but also embraced that feeling. Due to all of the changes the Astros have been though since last season, stability is key for him. Bud wants to be the guy in Houston and doesn’t want to move around at all. Bud gave the impression that he’s ready to take the leadership role on the club and wants no part of trade rumors anytime soon.
Jayne from whattheheckbobby.com asked Bud about certain coaches he’d like to give a little extra credit to for his development during his time in the minors. Norris wasn’t shy, he was grateful to all the coaches who helped him on his way to the majors. He named Donnie Alexander, Stan B0rowski and Burt Hooton and how each helped a great deal and how he took a lot from them. Borowski helped develop the devastating slider that Norris has struck out more than one or two hitters with in his time in the majors.
"Any good advice is what it’s all about and I’ve plenty from all of my coaches along the way."
David from crawfishboxes.com wanted to know if Bud was ready to expand his arsenal of pitches in 2012. Bud certainly agreed that changing some of his routines and ways of pitching is key as hitters adjust to him but also cautioned that would come naturally in time. Specifically mentioning former Astros’ pitcher Roy Oswalt as someone who changed his style of pitching later in his career and using him as a template.
"I’m going to be working on some things to expand my horizon and change the game for me, anything to help."
Jayne from whattheheckbobby.com inquired on behalf of one of her readers if Norris had a favorite fan moment. That question made Bud think a bit but eventually told us a story about a couple during spring training along with and how the excitement of seeing Astros’ fans rooting on the team made him very happy to be an Astro.
Jose from myhoustonlife.com concluded our interview by asking Bud about the drama revolving around the team name and what name he’d choose if it was his choice. Bud agreed sticking with a Texas theme would probably be the right way to go but acknowledged a suggestion made by Jim Deshaies, the Parakeets, might be an interesting option.
Scouts and fans alike look at Bud and see the prototypical starting pitcher, the guy is big and strong and a bulldog on the mound. I still remember the rumors that Norris was better suited to close games than start them but it has become very apparent the right choice was made. I’d like to thank Bud for the opportunity to sit down with him and pick his brain a bit. It was remarkable to sit there and get to know the 26 year old and see the confidence Norris showed as he answered each question. He certainly gave off a veteran type vibe and he seems poised to break through onto a whole different level in 2012.