Bud Norris (20) of the Houston Astros pitches

(MCT, USA Today Sports)

Bud Norris Remembers His 'Surreal' Rookie Year Against The Cardinals

Norris was on KMOX's Sports Open Line after his deal with STL was reported

February 12, 2018 - 5:16 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - As an opposing pitcher, Bud Norris says pitching in Busch Stadium brought out the best in him. The St. Louis Cardinals experienced that on Sunday, August 2, 2009, when Norris made his first MLB start and shutout the Cardinals in eight innings of work. 

"Truly, Busch Stadium was electric," Norris says. "Playing against the Cardinals was a real honor and a tough challenge at that ... trying to get through the Pujols', Holliday's, Ludwig's and guys of those types were some premiere hitters."

Norris will get the chance to return to Busch Stadium in 2018, as multiple reports surfaced Monday, that St. Louis had signed the 32-year-old righty to a one-year, $3 million contract, pending a physical. Norris spoke with KMOX's Alex Ferrario, saying he was in Austin, Texas and headed to Florida on Tuesday. 

Related story: Reports: Former Cards-Killer Bud Norris Signs With St. Louis

By the end of Norris' rookie season in 2009 he had become the Cardinals killer. He shut out St. Louis one more time that year, pitching seven innings of one-hit baseball on September 23. His ERA against St. Louis that year was 0.00 in 13 innings, compared to an overall ERA of 4.53 in 55.2 innings. 

The 24-year-old Norris says his family was in the stands at Busch Stadium for that inaugural start in 2009. It was against the eventually second runner-up for that year's Cy Young Award, Adam Wainwright; facing a lineup featuring the afformentioned Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Ryan Ludwig; and he says he could recall many of the details of that Sunday afternoon rubber match. 

But not just from his time on the mound.

"I do remember getting my first hit," Norris says. "Which was an absolute dribbler down the third base line and I ended up beating it out. And I was walking back to first base and Albert Pujols was holding onto the ball like, 'Do you really want it? Do you really want it?'

"And I was like heck yes I want it, that's my first big-league hit."

It was an incredible day of firsts, adding that hit to his collection, including his first strikeout, win and MLB start. 

With the Los Angeles Angels in 2017, Norris was used mainly as a late-innings reliever and closer, which is likely where he'll be fighting for innings with St. Louis.

"That was my first real taste of it, and it's a different beast," Norris says. "You come in, the lights are definitely turned on a little bit brighter. You know the situation right out in front of you and you have to be sharp right away." 

He made 19 saves for LA, but his second half was much less productive than his first, after a right ankle injury caused him knee problems and time on the disabled list. Norris says mobility in his right ankle was the top priority of this offseason, which like the rest of the free agent market, was slow for him.