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On eve of home debut, Bisons' Norris preparing for transition to bullpen

On eve of home debut, Bisons' Norris preparing for transition to bullpen Pitcher Daniel Norris and Mike Harrington chat in front of the Bisons' dugout this afternoon (Harry Scull/Buffalo News)

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Left-hander Daniel Norris makes his first home start for the Buffalo Bisons Thursday night and Blue Jays fans who want a look at one of their top prospects better make a firm date to come see him throw in the 7 p.m. game against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

That's because the 21-year-old told me this afternoon the parent club is moving him to the Buffalo bullpen for the rest of the season after the outing against the RailRiders, which will be his third Triple-A start.

Norris has allowed just five hits and one walk in 11 2/3 innings -- while striking out 23. He had 13 Ks Saturday at Lehigh Valley, one shy of the Herd's modern-era record and is the first Bison in franchise history with back-to-back 10+-strikeout outings.

"I'm anxious to get into a bullpen routine and manipulate my routine I've used all year," Norris told me prior to tonight's game against Rochester. "I'll be ready to work out of the bullpen."

Why the bullpen? It's a tranisition phase, much like the Jays did earlier this year with Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Stroman has been in the Toronto rotation for many weeks now while Sanchez has proven to be a quality setup reliever. Norris will likely get a simliar chance according to multiple media reports out of Toronto.

All three should vie for starting spots with the Jays next year or, in Norris' case, start the year as a top starter in Buffalo.

"I would pinch-run to help the Blue Jays," Norris said. "I would do anything they ask me to. I want to be part of a winning team and a winning organization. You can't fake that. If you don't love it, you can fake it and you can go through the motions. But when you want to win, it shows. I'd love for the opportunity but at the end of the day, it's out of my control."

Norris' life is a fascinating tale. A Tennessee native, one of his first purchases when he signed his first pro contract in 2011 was a 1978 Volkswagon van. He's taken up surfing, practicing his craft on Lake Michigan when he played last year at Class A Lansing as well as up and down the Eastern seaboard. And last winter, he did more surfing as he went backpacking through Nicaragua, staying at youth hostels throughout Central America.

Be sure to read my full column on Norris' rapid rise through the Blue Jays' chain and his interesting passions in Thursday's editions of The News.

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About the reporters

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master's degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.