KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Bud Norris appears to be ready for the regular season after throwing six strong innings on Friday night against the Braves in his final Grapefruit League start. He held Atlanta to four hits and one run, didn't walk a batter and struck out three.
Norris, who hadn't gone more than three innings in any spring game, was pitching for the first time in a week because of tightness in his triceps and forearm. He appears to be over that issue.
"I've been feeling a lot better since I've been working with the trainers and getting this triceps-forearm thing out," Norris said. "I'm really glad they gave me an extra two days to get back to 100 percent, and it showed today. I felt pretty good and had a lot of ground balls and worked really well with [catcher Jason] Castro. We were on the same page."
After four spring starts, Norris is 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA, and he has allowed nine hits and struck out eight in 15 innings. He's scheduled to throw a couple of innings on three days' rest on Tuesday against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park.
"You put in the work in spring and it's not about results," he said. "You're working on your stuff, but when the results come with the work you put in, it makes it a lot better. I'm excited to go out there and get this thing going."
Castro was impressed.
"That was only the second time I've caught him in the spring," Castro said. "He did a good job of spotting pretty much everything. He had a few instances when he was getting away from his fastball, just pulling off a little bit. He got right back to it and made the adjustments quick enough to get out of an inning before anything happened. I thought he looked great."
Castro goes the distance, catching nine frames
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Catcher Jason Castro, who missed all of last season following surgery on his right ACL, caught all nine innings of Friday's game against the Braves, marking the first time since the surgery that he's done so. Castro's knee has felt great all spring, and it didn't hurt that Friday was a night game and was played in two hours and 16 minutes. Still, after catching seven innings on Thursday, being able to come back and catch nine on Friday was a great sign.
"I didn't know I was going to go nine, and I talked to [manager Brad Mills] and he asked how I was feeling, and I said I was feeling good," Castro said. "He said, 'You can go ahead and have the whole thing.' That was a fairly quick one and we had some easy innings, so that made it a little easier."
Not only is Castro proving he's healthy, he's playing well. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI single on Friday and is hitting .333 with eight RBIs this spring.
"I put in a lot of work to get to where I'm at right now, and I'm really happy with the way things have gone," Castro said. "Hopefully, I can just keep progressing and carry this into the season. I'm real happy with physically how I'm feeling and how my body is responding and recovering the day after catching. I'm really happy with that."
Schafer's goal is health, not Opening Day
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- It's been nearly two weeks since center fielder Jordan Schafer injured a nerve in his left hand making a diving catch in the outfield. On Friday he hit baseballs off a tee and against soft toss and continues to progress.
"I think I'll do the same thing [on Saturday] and take batting practice, and if I'm good, hopefully I can start getting some at-bats [in games]," Schafer said. "Everything felt really good, and hopefully, it remains that way."
Schafer was close to returning to action about a week ago, but he tried to do too much too soon and wound up needing a couple of days off after visiting a hand specialist in Atlanta. He would like to get some at-bats prior to Opening Day, but his No. 1 goal is to be healthy.
"That's the only thing that really concerns me is that I'm ready to go April 6 and I can play and I can help the team try to win games," he said. "Obviously, I want to get some at-bats before then, but most important, I want to be ready for Opening Day."