Norris recovers from shoulder injury, may pitch Friday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Chris Norris is not mad.

He’s not frustrated. He’s not dragging his lip. He’s not bugging the coaches to let him pitch. He’s not anxious.

Well, maybe a little anxious.

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Now that the Cathedral left-hander is gotten a clear-all to play, Norris admits he’s geared up to get back on the mound &045; the position he played a big role in leading the Green Wave to being one win away from playing for a state championship.

But so far his duties have been limited &045; left field, center field and designated hitter &045; thanks to a sore shoulder. That all may change, however, when the Green Wave host Enterprise Friday night in a Division 7-1A contest.

&uot;I went to the doctor a week and a half ago, and he said I was improving,&uot; said Norris, a first-team All-Metro selection last season. &uot;He said when I felt ready and when the coaches thought I would be ready I could pitch. I think I’m getting to that point right now. I’m looking forward to (Friday). I can’t wait to go back in and start pitching again.&uot;

Plans are still on hold for what contributions he’ll make against Enterprise, but Norris will start getting time on the mound this week. No doubt he’ll be welcomed back this spring after leading the Green Wave through the playoffs last season.

This year, however, the Green Wave have a deeper staff that allows Norris to come back when he’s 100 percent ready.

&uot;We’re going to see what he looks like this week,&uot; Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. &uot;We’re going to let him throw a little today off the mound and see what he looks like. I think he’s getting a little stronger each day. We didn’t want him playing defense in the Vidalia tournament (last weekend) and tried to save him there. We’ll work him Thursday and see how he feels.&uot;

His absence on the mound is all due to a sore shoulder he first felt in late January when the Green Wave first stated working out. The shoulder was plenty sore, and he visited doctors to get checked out &045; all while hoping recovery did not include surgery that would ruin his senior season.

&uot;At first it was my biggest fear,&uot; Norris said. &uot;But I talked to a couple of doctors, and they said surgery was definitely not needed. They said it’s just a long process to recover from.

&uot;Just starting out too early, I guess &045; cold weather and not warming up enough. At first it was just a sharp pain when I threw. I’m taking some anti-inflammatory medicine. It’s worked a lot since it happened.&uot;

The soreness has forced Norris to change his arm angle to straight over the top instead of a 135-degree angle as in the past. The angle slightly off to the side helped him with his breaking pitches last season, part of the reason he went 10-3 with 93 strikeouts in 82 2/3 innings.

The over-the-top delivery will cut down on the number of sliders he throws, but that may have been the case anyway coming off the injury.

&uot;I don’t imagine I’ll be throwing it that much early,&uot; Norris said. &uot;I don’t want to run the risk of hurting my arm again. It hasn’t hurt as much throwing over the top as it did three-quarters. My control is almost there. I’ve been working on my spots. I’m getting my velocity back with my fastball and trying to perfect my changeup.&uot;

It’s sort of like learning to pitch again, but Norris is taking what he did best in the past to the mound. While he’s among a much deeper pitching staff than a year ago with Te Riley, Jeremy Davis and Brent Tosspon, the Green Wave could use him down the stretch when it plays several make-up games at the end of the season.

&uot;Control, off-speed pitching and his experience,&uot; Beesley said of Norris’ strengths. &uot;Experience means a lot when you get to the postseason. I’m looking for him to be ready for the postseason. On top of that, he gives us two left-handed starters. You don’t see that much on the 1A level.

&uot;He gets ahead of the hitters. In high school if you get ahead of the hitters and have good off-speed stuff, you can really get in a batter’s mind.&uot;

Once Norris can get back into a groove on the mound, he’d like to get a little more postseason experience. There may be a little more pressure on the Green Wave now after making South State last year, but the fact remains this team is young.

Norris is one of three seniors on the team. So he’s ready to jump in and help lead the team this spring.

&uot;Our goal every year is to make it to state,&uot; he said. &uot;Whatever we accomplish is up to us. I have a real good feeling about this year. Our pitchers are doing pretty well this year. We’ve had some young guys come in and do a good job on the mound. If we keeping hitting the ball and making plays like we should, I think we could go far in the postseason.&uot;