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Norris soaks up scene in MLB debut

Norris soaks up scene in debut

CHICAGO -- Bud Norris stood behind the pitcher's mound for a brief moment to soak it all in. He was finally in the Major Leagues and, better yet, standing inside the ivy-covered walls of sun-splashed Wrigley Field. Could it get much better than this?

Once Norris collected his breath and his emotions, he took the mound for the Astros and threw three solid innings, striking out four, in a 12-0 loss that was forgettable, except for the debut of the No. 2-ranked prospect, by Baseball America, in Houston's Minor League system.

"It's obviously pretty exciting," Norris said. "You've worked so hard since you were a little kid and you dreamed about it, and the first time you get to do it, it's at Wrigley Field and in a day game with that lineup. It was exciting and fun and I enjoyed it, and I went out there and gave it my all."

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Norris, 24, was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday night and flew to Chicago from Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday. He was pressed into action when Houston starter Mike Hampton left after giving up nine runs in four innings.

Pitching in front of his parents, who flew in from California, and two friends, Norris made the run in from the bullpen to start the fifth inning of a blowout game.

"I talked to a couple of guys before, and they said when you get out there to stand behind the mound and soak it all in real quick and go about your business," Norris said. "That's exactly what I did."

Before he stepped onto the rubber, Norris composed himself behind the mound and wrote the initials of his grandfather, Ken Norris, and a cross into the mound dirt. Ken Norris went to Spring Training with the Yankees but was drafted into World War II and spent three years in the Navy.

"He came back and decided he couldn't pick up a glove and ball and decided to start a family, so that's what he did," Norris said. "I still have all the vintage baseballs of his glory days, and it's something that means a lot. It's great to get the Norris name out there."

Norris retired the first hitter he faced -- infielder Jeff Baker -- on a popup to second base and was sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball. He allowed one walk through two innings before giving up three hits and a run in his third inning of work.

"I thought Bud threw the ball well," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "He was pretty impressive with his fastball and his slider and changeup and did a good job for his first outing at Wrigley Field. I'm sure he was nervous, but I thought he did a good job."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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