* He started the season at single-A, but LHP Daniel Norris will start Thursday’s game for the Toronto Blue Jays in their series finale against the Seattle Mariners. That and more in Melissa Couto’s weekly ThrowinSmoke notebook. ….
By Melissa Couto
TORONTO — Daniel Norris‘ breakout year is about to get better.
The 21-year-old left-hander, who rose through the ranks from single-A to the big leagues this season, will get his first major league start on Thursday against the Seattle Mariners in place of Marcus Stroman, who’s still serving his five-game suspension.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons announced the move Tuesday, saying he’s been impressed with what Norris has brought to the table so far in his limited role as a bullpen arm.
“He’s a young kid who had a good year in the minor leagues and we really like him,” Gibbons said prior to Tuesday night’s 10-2 win over Seattle at Rogers Centre. (We’ll) give him the feel of a start, let him prepare that way.”
Norris, a native of Johnson City, Tenn., holds a 5.40 earned-run average through just 3 1/3 innings as a reliever. He earned his September call-up after going 12-2 with a 2.53 ERA as a starter over three minor league levels.
Gibbons said Norris will go “two or three innings” Thursday before the bullpen shoulders the load for the rest of the game.
Stroman was originally handed a six-game suspension by the league for throwing behind Baltimore catcher Caleb Joseph‘s head during a game at Camden Yards last week.
The 23-year-old right-hander, who’s scheduled to come off his suspension on Friday, will be available as a reliever for the final weekend of the season. Drew Hutchison will get his regular start Friday, with J.A. Happ and R.A. Dickey going Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Though tensions between the Blue Jays and Orioles unsurprisingly flared up following Stroman’s errant pitch, Gibbons says pushing the rookie out of his regular starting role had nothing to do with what transpired in Baltimore.
Instead, the manager stressed, the move had more to do with necessity.
“Using all those relievers on Thursday, you’re going to need someone to cover the bullpen a little bit,” Gibbons said.
“We want Hutch to go. Stro can throw Friday night and maybe bounce back on Sunday and throw an inning or something. We just thought it made more sense with him instead of Hutch.”
CANADIANS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES
Blue Jays outfield prospect Dalton Pompey is making the most of his month-long stint in the major leagues.
After robbing Seattle’s Dustin Ackley of extra bases with a highlight-reel diving catch in centre field on Monday — his first start at Rogers Centre — the Mississauga, Ont., native hit his first major league home run on Tuesday.
And he did it off a Cy Young Award winner, no less, launching a 3-1 offering from Felix Hernandez to the second deck in right field.
As the ball zoomed into the seats, the 21-year-old Pompey took a moment to stare at it before beginning his trot around the bases.
“It was kind of a shock for a moment,” the former Oakville Royal told reporters after the game. “Who was pitching, the ball I hit. I played with that guy in video games, you know?
“To think I just hit a home run off him was pretty crazy.”
Pompey became the ninth different Canadian to hit a home run as a Blue Jay, and the fifth different Canadian to do it at Rogers Centre.
Even R.A. Dickey, who pitched masterfully in earning his 14th win of the season, said post-game that the night belonged to Pompey and his accomplishment.
“That’s a cool thing,” the veteran knuckleballer said. “That’s what baseball offers, cool stories like that.”
Pompey is 3 for 19 in 11 games, but has three hits, two runs scored, an RBI, and a strikeout over his last two contests.
— Also at Rogers Centre: Mariners LHP James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) had the shortest outing of his young career on Monday, lasting just 2 2/3 innings in the 14-4 loss to Toronto. And on Tuesday, Seattle OF Michael Saunders (Victoria) started in right field and was 1 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout.
— Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) is first in the National League batting title race with a .319 average. Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison isn’t far behind at .317 after Tuesday’s games.
— Texas Rangers OF Jim Adduci (Burnaby, B.C.) has been reinstated from the disabled list after he missed 3 1/2 weeks because of a concussion. Adduci left the Rangers’ Aug. 28 game against Houston after hitting his head on a side wall while making a catch in foul territory.
THIS AND THAT
— The Blue Jays were mathematically eliminated from post-season contention on Tuesday night following Kansas City’s win over Cleveland.
— Former Blue Jays infielder Chris Woodward is back at his old stomping grounds at Rogers Centre this week. Woodward, who played for Toronto from 1999-2004, is now the Mariners’ first-base coach. Woodward batted .245 with a .292 on-base percentage through 362 games as a Blue Jay.
— Aaron Sanchez has gone 11 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run and has allowed just one earned run in his last 21 innings pitched.
– Follow Melissa Couto on Twitter @throwinsmoke