THE INCREASE: Daniel Norris - A Better Mindset

I’ve been on the DL many times throughout my career, and I’ll be on the DL this year until about the time August rolls around. But this time it’s different. This time I know this is the recipe for getting me back to where I need to be.

The injury happened last year during the All-Star break. I strained my groin and went on the DL at that point, but it was somewhat of a short process, and as I started to get back into the game, I wasn’t feeling that good. After that, I remained on the DL for most of last year to rehab more. Toward the end of the season I started to feel good again and the team decided to bring me back slowly, allowing me to pitch a few games. I felt pretty good at first, and then it began to flare up once again. It was up to me to rehab on my own during the offseason, so I went to California for a month of training and did everything in my power to make sure I was at my healthiest and strongest.

But as the spring season began, the injury started nagging at me; it wasn’t necessarily painful, but I knew something wasn’t working right. My velocity was about 7 mph slower than usual. Even still, I was pitching effectively in games and the start of the year until it really started hurting again. It was then I knew that surgery was needed. It wasn’t a surprise; I saw it coming.

It would be easy to be frustrated about this but honestly, I’ve felt really good about the whole process. Having surgery gave me clarity because I was trying to pitch well below my normal ability for a while, but now I have a plan in place. I can go from here knowing I’ll have hope for a full recovery. God’s given me a huge peace and contentment through all of this; I can feel it. It’s been really good to be able to focus on the task at hand and not just try to hurry up and get better. I don’t want to speed up the recovery process; instead I want to really pay attention to all the details needed to get back on track.

Because I’ve been on the DL so many times throughout my career, I’ve experienced all the emotions that go with it. In the past I would get very frustrated with my situation and grow increasingly anxious every day. I would be chomping at the bit to get back on the field. Not that I’m not now, but today I have a different mindset toward it all. I understand that this is the process and I’m taking it as an opportunity to get back to my best playing capacity.

I think many people have been curious as to why I’m not more upset about this than I am. I’ve received some really solemn phone calls, ready to sympathize with me. But the people on the other end of the call are surprised when I’m in good spirits. I’m doing great! I’m working hard toward recovery and while the physical side of things is hard work and painful, my mental capacity is great. I’ve learned from my experiences in the past and chosen to have a much better outlook. It doesn’t do me or my teammates any good to sulk in what can’t be.

This time is an opportunity for me to not only better myself in my long-term career, but in other areas of life as well. I’ve had more time to read my Bible, spiritual growth books, and other books I enjoy. Recently I was sitting in the park, reading a book when a guy came up to me and struck up conversation. Within a couple minutes we started talking about God and our faith, a conversation which lasted for about an hour. At the end of our talk he gave me his number and invited me to his church’s small group. I went to the group the next week and was really blessed by the time. In a random group of about eight people, we read God’s Word, prayed and talked about how to give glory to God with all that He’s given to us.

This experience was so random but exactly what I was wanting and needing. Being in Florida for rehab, I am away from my teammates, my chaplain and my friends. To be an introverted reader, invited by an outgoing stranger to a local community that is hungry for God, is an answer to prayer.

Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers pitcher

The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.

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