Summer 2024

Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris seeks patience from God as he awaits negative COVID tests

As MLB teams across the country conduct summer training camps at their home stadiums, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Daniel Norris remains on the outside waiting to get in. He can’t train with his teammates at Comerica Park because he contracted COVID-19 late last month and has yet to be cleared to participate in summer camp.

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According to the Detroit Free Press, Norris tested positive for the coronavirus on June 23. He’s not sure how he contracted it because he says he was taking the threat seriously and wearing a mask. But it’s likely he got it in mid-June after working out at the Tigers’ spring training complex in Lakeland, Florida, then surfing in Cocoa Beach before driving back to Tampa in damp board shorts. Florida recently became a hot spot for the virus.

“I felt sickish but I didn’t think much of it, then for like five days, I would wake up in the middle of the night and get out of bed and I’d be dropping sweat off my fingertips, like down my forearms, off my fingertips,” Norris told the Free Press. “It was crazy and I was just like, ‘Holy crap,’ and I would get out of bed in the morning and I’d walk to my kitchen and make coffee and I literally felt like I was 75-80 years old, like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is crazy.’”

After five days Norris said he felt better, and has now felt 100 percent for a couple weeks. But he continues to test positive. He said he received a negative test at an urgent care facility in the Tampa area, but MLB only accepts its own tests, and Norris received another positive the next day. A player needs two consecutive negative tests to be cleared to resume baseball activities.

“That, to me, is the most frustrating part on a personal level, is seeing [summer camp] going on and it just looks like so much fun and I want to be out there with my friends and I can’t, you know?” he said.

MLB announced its plans for a 2020 MLB season on June 23, and Norris showed his excitement on social media. But that was also the day he tested positive.

As he waits, Norris is letting his teammates know how serious the coronavirus is. He sent a group text to the team last week saying, “Hey guys, No. 1, I miss you guys like crazy, I wish I was there, I wish we were all hanging out in the clubhouse having coffee. But No. 2, take it seriously. Young guys, try not to go out to eat, just stay smart. Sacrifice 2.5 months out of this year to be vigilant about it. That’s what’s required — that’s the only way this is going to work.”

Sitting around and waiting is further testing Norris’ patience, something he was already working on prior to contracting COVID. In May he told The Increase, “Patience has always been an area in which I’ve needed to grow. For the past few months, I’ve been having dreams of playing baseball, then waking up with an itch to play. But like the rest of the world, I have to be patient and wait on God’s timing for this pandemic to end. Whether you’re an athlete or not, it’s literally all we can do to wait and have patience during this time.”

Norris continued by saying he could look back and see how God had prepared his heart for this season of waiting. He said he struggled with rehab from an injury in 2018, “probably was the biggest wall I’ve had to face in my baseball career,” and he was questioning if he would ever be able to pitch again.

“Losing confidence in myself, I felt inferior to everyone around me,” Norris said. “In order to overcome my doubts and fears, I had to focus on what I had at the present time, instead of wishing for what was or what could have been. When I finally accepted where I was, I was able to focus on being the best I could be. Only after I began to mentally recover was I then able to start to physically recover.”

Prior to the MLB season getting shut down during spring training, Norris said he felt the best he ever had. He was eager to build upon a 2019 season in which he started more games than any other season (29) and compiled a career-best 125 strikeouts, but went 3-13 with a 4.49 ERA.

“After such a great spring training, it’s hard to be unable to play. Feeling as good as I do, I want to be able to use my gifts. But as I continue to learn patience, I know that I’ll be ready to put my skills to use when the season does begin … All we can do is appreciate what we have, and be patient as we trust God to take care of the rest.”

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