Sunday, April 4, 2010

Astros Pitcher Bud Norris weighs in on the Astros, Giants, Tiger Woods, and more

Astros starter Bud Norris, a Novato, CA native joined The Dodgerhater for a quick Q&A session in preparation for the Giants opening series in Houston.

The Dodgerhater: Does it finally feel like baseball season?

Bud: Yeah. Definitely. Today watching the Yankees and Red Sox get it going was pretty cool and I'm really excited about tomorrow because it's my first full big league season with the club and I get to see Roy Oswalt against Tim Lincecum on Opening Night, which will be pretty sweet, because I'm still a fan of the game. So yeah I'm looking forward to it.

The Dodgerhater: So you must be glad to get out of Kissimmee. What did you do with your down time there? Did you go to Disney World?

Bud: Didn't go to Disney World this year, but I did go last year a couple times.

I'm a big golfer, so I was lucky enough to have quite the set up this year. I got asked by my teammate Geoff Blum to live with him during spring training, and I actually got to live at Tiger Woods's golf course called Isleworth---

The Dodgerhater: SICK!

Bud: Yeah man. I played golf like every day at Tiger Woods's golf course and I actually got introduced to Tiger and just played a ton of golf this year.

The Dodgerhater: How's Tiger doing?

Bud: He was fine and was a really nice guy and he was definitely in a good mood. There was a bunch of speculation about whether he'd play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, which is right down the road from there. But as you know, he's getting ready for the Masters.

Dodgerhater: It's your second spring training with the club, but your first as a real pro with a guaranteed spot. How's it different than last year?

Bud: Exciting. Obviously I wanted to go in this year and really earn my spot in the rotation, but I was a little more comfortable, I'd say.

Last year I went into camp and was battling for a bullpen spot, but this year I was a front runner to win one of the spots in the rotation. So yeah, I was definitely a lot more comfortable and had a little big league service time under my belt and I knew the guys a lot better and they knew me a little. So I can honestly say I was a lot more relaxed and comfortable.

Dodgerhater: You've got a lot of new faces on your team like Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom, and Pedro Feliz while Miggy (Tejada), Valverde, and LaTroy Hawkins are gone. How are the new guys fitting in?

Bud: It's going real good. We've got some younger guys in the clubhouse which is nice because I'm a young guy as well. Those new guys who came in have definitely brought a new feel to the team and we'll see how everything shapes up.

Everyone so far is getting along great and there's a lot more liveliness in the clubhouse-- a lot more fun and a lot more laughs and smiles. It's good to keep the air fresh and fun, so yeah I think all the new guys have adjusted well.

Dodgerhater: You mentioned in our last Q&A that last year LaTroy Hawkins was the vet who gave you the most crap. Have they hazed you at all yet, or is that more of a regular season thing?

Bud: Haha, nothing yet, but I'm definitely waiting for it. I'm sure (Brett) Myers has a few things up his sleeve.

One time this Spring though, I came out of the clubhouse looking for my car and they had moved it completely to the other end of the parking lot, so I had to walk like 300 yards to get it.

Dodgerhater: At least they didn't fill it with popcorn or anything...

Bud: Yeah, that would've sucked. So they were nice and only moved it.

Dodgerhater: So J.R. Towles won the starting catching gig. How comfortable are you guys working together and how well do you guys know each other from (AAA) Round Rock?

Bud: Yeah, I'm happy for J.R. Last year I worked mainly with Lou Santangelo in Round Rock because J.R. had gone up and down a lot last year and had a couple nagging injuries. But I have worked with J.R. this spring and also in a few starts at the end of last year. But yeah I'm definitely getting more comfortable with J.R. and he's getting to know me, and I like working with him. So I'm excited to work with him on Friday.

Dodgerhater: I've read a bunch of stuff about the Astros and journalists and bloggers alike seem to have written you guys off already and I hear the term "rebuilding" a lot. That's in addition to the trade speculation that's already beginning to swirl around Carlos Lee. What positives do you see so far and is any of that stuff bothering you?

Bud: I actually got asked this question the other day and we're not worried about it, you know? Everybody starts fresh on day one and anything can happen as you know. It's baseball. If our pieces of the puzzle come together, we can win a lot of games and I'm looking forward to it.

It's kinda nice to not have that pressure on us, but I think we're really going to surprise some people and I think we have an opportunity to sneak up on some teams this year, and we'll see what happens. Like you said, it all starts tomorrow.

Dodgerhater: I see that you're the 4th starter, which is totally sick, except that means that you're gonna miss pitching against the Giants in this opening series. Are you bummed about that at all?

Bud: Yeah it woulda been nice to lock up that #3 spot, but I knew that I wouldn't with Meyers in here, but I'm not too worried about it. It's cool enough that the team I grew up rooting for is playing my new team and I get to watch them do battle from the dugout.

Dodgerhater: But you definitely circled the series in San Francisco...

Bud: Yeah I really hope I catch one of those starts at AT&T in May because that would mean a lot to me. But no, I'm not too worried about this series, all I can do is hope that I get to start in San Francisco next month.

Dodgerhater: So what do you think of the Giants this year, especially with their upgraded offense and have you guys had any meetings about them yet?

Bud: We were supposed to have our meeting about them the other day but the video got screwed up so, we haven't discussed them as a team yet.

I definitely think they made some good moves. DeRosa is gonna be a good guy for them and obviously if Panda can do the same stuff he did last year, it'll be interesting.

The guy who I really think is under the radar for that team is Aubrey Huff. I think that guy is a real big league hitter-- a proven big league hitter, and I think that power bat in the middle of the lineup will be huge for them.

You already know what you're getting from the Giants' rotation, but I really think that if Aubrey Huff has a good year, the Giants will too.

The Dodgerhater: What's the word on Lance Berkman's injury? Is it serious or is it something he just wants to give a little more time to before he plays?

Bud: I think it's a little bit of both. At first they weren't quite sure what to do about it, but they wanted to get in there and clean it up. He was looking good the last few days of spring, but then it flared up on him a little. Right now he's a little more worried about it than the trainers are. He really wants to get it corrected so he can play the whole year effectively and be as healthy as possible.

Last year he tried to play hurt with that calf problem and saw his numbers slide and he hated the way he played. He realizes that playing at 75 percent is just not the same. He can't wait to get out there and we'll welcome he's back when he's ready.

The Dodgerhater: I'm outing Hunter Pence as a World of Warcraft nerd right now. Think he'll be pissed?

Bud: Probably not. Hunter plays it a lot. I went over to his apartment this offseason and hung out at his place. He's got a big ol' computer on his kitchen table and he loves it.

Hunter's a different cat, but he's a great guy and we get along pretty well. But yeah, he's definitely a World of Warcraft guy.

The Dodgerhater: Would you be pissed if I told you that if you pitch against the Giants that I want you to throw 8 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts but I hope the Giants win it against your bullpen?

Bud: Haha. That's okay with me. I know it'll be a weird situation, but I gotta root for my team first and it's my job. But when we're not playing the Giants, I'll definitely be watching.

The Dodgerhater: I noticed that you no longer have a Facebook page. At what point do you become too famous for one and is that something the team suggests you do?

Bud: I went throught the Rookie program this year in D.C. and it's definitely not a good idea to be out there and putting your life on display. It's fun for awhile and I liked being able to keep in touch with friends on it, but you know, maybe something bad shows up from the past or whatever and you definitely don't need that. So, it was best to just get rid of it and focus on baseball.

The Dodgerhater: Last question. Have you seen Hot Tub Time Machine yet?

Bud: Haha. No I haven't yet, but I've heard about it. Is it good?

The Dodgerhater: Let's put it this way, maybe you should skip the game tomorrow and go see it.

Bud: You're telling me it's that good?

The Dodgerhater: Well, no, but it's still pretty damn awesome.

Bud: Alright, well I'm definitely looking forward to seeing it anyway.

The Dodgerhater: Thanks for taking a few minutes man. Good luck this season, and I'm really sorry that you guys have to start off the season by getting swept by the Giants.

Bud: No problem man. And yeah, we will certainly see about your little prediction.


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  2. Great interview Dan. Norris seems like an awesome guy. It's great to see ballplayers like this, guys who seem down to earth and one of the guys. I hope you can get some more interviews with other players and talk about whatever you want (seriously, when do you see a pitcher talk about Tiger Woods or hear that Hunter Pence plays World of Warcraft?)

  3. Very cool interview... keep up the great work! I'm shocked you haven't said anything about Opening Day and your thoughts on it... I got it covered at my site, so you get a pass.

    King of Cali
    All The Latest SF Giants Rumors

  4. Great interview - insight about Berkman's knee that we Astros fans wouldn't have heard anywhere else. And your prediction was, unfortunately, pretty incredible

    Astros County.

  5. Rent Boy and Rowand are the essential nucleus of our heroic G-nats, and both deserve four-year extensions. Get it done, Sabean!

  6. Very nice interview. I'd like to see a followup interview later on in the year. And great prediction. Know you were talking out of your anal orofice on that one.

    Barry (one of the Marshall bros)