Norris Is All About Trading Places


Oakland, San Diego,
San Diego, Oakland.
“They are pretty much polar opposites,” catcher Derek Norris said.
Norris is among the fresh faces filling the Padres’ clubhouse in Peoria. He was acquired from the A’s, and so far, it’s a great trade in Norris’ eyes.
And we’re not just referring to him flipping his work address.
“I feel like I have a great opportunity here,” Norris said. “There is real talent on this team and a lot of guys are hungry to win. There are a lot of guys that can make an impact.”
That goes for Norris, too.
But he’ll let Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, James Shields and Wil Myers flash their tools while Norris grabs the tools of ignorance.
Although that description is as out of place as Norris’ mug minus his beard.
It doesn’t take a Mensa member to decipher there’s much on Norris plate. He has to learn National League pitchers for hitting and Padres pitchers for catching.
That bond between the pitcher and catcher is something that needs to be nurtured for success. That’s manager Bud Black’s take and it’s been well-received.
“I got a sense he knows how important that is,” Black said of Norris.
After general manager A.J. Preller’s offseason handiwork, catchers Rene Rivera and Yasmani Grandal are elsewhere. Nick Hundley, another catcher with Padres time, was moved during the year.
Enter Norris, and let’s hope he matches the names with the numbers and what pitches they like to throw, when and where.
“Modern technology gave me a head start,” Norris said.
Mike Tompkins, the Padres’ video guru, gets that assist.
Tompkins spliced, diced and presented Norris with a tape which told the tale of the Padres’ staff. Norris settled with it on his iPad this winter and it beat watching the snow fall outside his Wichita, Kansas, home.
“It showed how they pitched in the beginning of the year and late in the year,” Norris said. “I kind of feel like I’ve played with them although I’ve never played with anyone.”
Which is fine with Norris.
“I’m a big video guy and I like to look at a lot of videos,” he said. “It looks like they do their homework here with that, with the time they put into it. That gives me a good scouting report and helps me.”
Preller sought a heaping helping of Norris, even if forced to relinquish touted pitching prospect Jesse Hahn.
Norris, an all-star last season, hit .270 with 10 home runs despite injuries curtailing his second-half production.
“I have to be more consistent getting the ball on the barrel,” he said about his spring goal. “Put it on the barrel and see where it goes.”
Where will the the new-look Padres end up?
Good question but there’s a groovy vibe in the clubhouse and we’re not talking about the tunes being blasted.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of optimism,” Norris said. “Guys are coming in with a lot of confidence, believing in the moves that happened in the offseason.”
Moving from Oakland to San Diego like Norris?
Try beating that.
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