When Bud Norris makes his season debut against the 3-0 Tigers on Saturday, he'll be out to prove that the Orioles front office made the right decision by keeping him in the rotation as the fifth starter.
A move into the more difficult AL East in mid-2013 certainly didn't help, but Norris' post-trade earned-run average was 4.80, nearly a full run higher than the 3.93 figure he posted in the portion of the season he spent with the Astros. He battled soreness in his pitching elbow for much of the second half of the season.
"I think there's a lot of people I still want to show how much I still have in this game," Norris said Friday. "So a new opportunity, a new season is always what that brings."
Norris beat out Kevin Gausman, among others, for the final slot in the Baltimore rotation. He will face Detroit righty Rick Porcello at Comerica Park at 1:08 p.m. ET Saturday after the Tigers took the series opener on Friday, 10-4.
While Norris' focus this spring was on returning to form, Porcello continued to develop his curveball. The 25-year-old Porcello relied on that particular pitch last year to put together his best season since 2009, when he was a rookie.
"It was pretty big [last season]," Porcello said Thursday. "I saw how helpful it was last year in balancing out my pitches, especially against lefties. I'm hoping to continue to get better with that pitch and continue to get a better feel for it and use it effectively."
Porcello attributed his strong 2013 campaign to better command, which led to a career-best strikeout ratio, as well as a career-best strikeout-to-walk ratio.
"I'm going to continue to get groundballs and improve on the strikeout and walk ratios," he said. "If I'm doing those things well, I'm probably pitching well."
Orioles: Hardy expects to return Saturday
"Light lower back spasms" kept shortstop J.J. Hardy from making the start at shortstop Friday, but he said he should return to the lineup Saturday.
"[We just] had a lot of things with the flight, the sleep, the weather, we didn't want it to turn into something else," said manager Buck Showalter. "I was considering [playing him] anyway."
The Orioles (1-3) did not arrive in Detroit until about 3:30 a.m. ET. Ryan Flaherty got the nod in Hardy's absence.
Showalter said the lineup for Saturday is already written out -- with Hardy's name back in it.
Tigers: At last, Romine debuts in Detroit
After Thursday's rainout prevented Andrew Romine from making his first start as a Tiger, he found his name on the lineup card again Friday.
In his Detroit debut, he went 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.
Manager Brad Ausmus will be looking for opportunities to squeeze Romine in at shortstop with 37-year-old Alex Gonzalez presumably needing rest. Gonzalez has gotten off to a quick start in Detroit, going 3-for-8, including a triple and a walk-off single on Opening Day.
• Detroit left fielder Rajai Davis' fourth-inning, three-run home run on Friday matched the earliest into a season he has ever homered. In 2010 with Oakland, he also hit one out in the third game of the season.
• Remarkably, Miguel Cabrera has homered within the first three games of the season in seven of the past eight years. It took the slugger until his seventh game to go deep last year, though he still managed to tie a career high with 44 dingers.
• When Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez swiped second in the fourth inning Friday, it marked only the fifth stolen base of his career and the first since July 1, 2011.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.