On Monday, at the suggestion of teammate Coco Crisp, the struggling Derek Norris went to a barber shop and got a mullet. The next day in game one of the series against the New York Yankees, the Oakland Athletics catcher went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. The effort pushed Norris back over the .200 mark, and it was his first multi-hit game since May 22 and his sixth on the season.
Meanwhile, platoon-mate John Jaso is hitting .276 on the year and .345 in his past 10 games. But despite Jaso’s superior bat, Norris remains firmly atop the depth chart. Manager Bob Melvin has made it abundantly apparent that he’s willing to accept the trade-off with Norris’ bat for the value he offers with his glove and his budding leadership skills.
It remains to be seen just how much the 24-year-old catcher might grow offensively. Norris made his debut last year on June 21, and since that date he has appeared in 108 games and hit .202. In his first 402 plate appearances Norris has put up a slash line of .294/.345/.639. In parts of six minor league seasons, Norris hit a rather pedestrian .252, but one of his best campaigns came with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats in 2012.
Norris played in 58 games for the River Cats before getting the call to replace Kurt Suzuki, and he hit .271 with nine home runs and a .804 OPS. Norris is unlikely to ever replicate those numbers with the Athletics, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think he might settle somewhere between the numbers he put up in Sacramento last summer and what he has done in Oakland to this point.
In the immediate future, however, Norris might be doing a lot of sitting. After facing 11 left-handers in the past 16 games, the Athletics are due to face 16 straight right-handers beginning with Phil Hughes tonight.