Norris makes strong case for Opening Day role

Norris makes strong case for Opening Day role

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Right-hander Bud Norris strengthened his case to be the Opening Day starter by throwing six strong innings -- the longest outing by an Astros pitcher this spring -- and allowing three hits and two runs while striking out five Blue Jays on Sunday.

Norris, who would pitch twice at home in the first week of the season if the starts the March 31 season opener against the Rangers, is looking for his first Opening Day assignment. Lucas Harrell, the team's 2012 Pitcher of the Year, is also getting consideration to make the start.

"That decision is going to be made on [manager Bo Porter's] account," Norris said. "I feel confident in Lucas going out there and doing that job, and I feel confident in myself going out there and doing that job. The fact of the matter is we have to feel confident whoever we send out on a five-day basis to get the job done."

Norris threw 46 of 68 pitches for strikes and then threw 12-15 pitches more in the bullpen to reach his pitch count. His slider had late life and good depth and he spotted his fastball well.

"The slider got lazy a couple of innings," Norris said. "Obviously, the third inning when they scored there were a couple of bad sliders, but once I got it out of my head to go out there and compete and be confident with it, they started coming along. You're always trying to locate. That's the No. 1 priority, but attacking and being aggressive is also a priority."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.