This seems familiar, unfortunately. For the second time in as many years, Tigers starter Daniel Norris left a game early due to an oblique injury. The 23-year-old lefthander faced just 10 batters on Monday against the Cleveland Indians, departing in the bottom of the third inning with a right oblique injury that will be further evaluated on Tuesday.
Norris didn’t look his sharpest through the first two innings, allowing a run on three hits in the second inning. He walked former teammate Rajai Davis to open the third before manager Brad Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand came out to check on him. Rather than allowing Norris to remain in the game, Ausmus went to his bullpen, giving reliever Dustin Molleken his first major league appearance.
Norris’ oblique strain is on the right side, the same that he injured against the Chicago Cubs in August 2015. He was placed on the disabled list shortly after and missed nearly a full month of action before returning in the middle of September. While the current injury may not be in the same location within the oblique muscle that he previously damaged, his prior history of injury may have made him more susceptible to abdominal issues.
The timing of Norris’ injury is problematic for the Tigers, who are also without righthander Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann was placed on the disabled list earlier on Monday with a neck strain. The Tigers will start Anibal Sanchez against the Tribe on Tuesday in Zimmermann’s place, but have not announced any concrete plans beyond that game. Odds are lefthander Matt Boyd will be recalled to replace one of Norris or Zimmermann, but Sanchez’s hold on a rotation spot is still rather precarious.