"It was fun to get out there for sure," Tim Norton said. "It's been a long time and to be able to come to the game and make a difference for the club, I'm loving it.
"It's something that I need in my life and it's been missing for two years. I'm excited to get back in there."
The last time Norton pitched in a game prior to last Saturday was on April 26, 2007 with the Charleston Riverdogs.
"I feel good. I came in and faced six hitters," Norton said. "I hit one kid, but everything went pretty well. Obviously, there's some stuff I can do better on out there. Overall, it was a great start."
In 2007, Norton had rotator cuff surgery in which pins were inserted into his labrum. He said he had been dealing with shoulder pain long before his surgery.
"Well [rehab] started off real good. I was strong, then I had some issues and tendonitis," Norton said. "It just took a long time. I finished last year throwing live BP and I was game ready, but that was in time for the offseason so I had to take another break and so it took so long."
The uncertainty of his future kept him motivated to make a successful return after a long rehab.
"Just trying to prove everyone wrong," Norton said. "Shoulder surgery is something that some people can never come back from. I just wanted to be one of those guys who did and I like pitching so I just kept working and working."
"I just know that shoulder surgery is something you don't play around with. I just know a lot of guys lose a lot of velocity and never come back so I just wanted to beat that."
While he may be back on the mound, he still works on strengthening his shoulder.
"Everyday I have to work on it, stretch it, get my flexibility back and now I'm just another guy in the pen just trying to stay healthy," he said.
He throws a fastball around 91 MPH and a changeup from 78 to 80 MPH. His injury caused him to change his pitches and ironically taught him how to better approach his game.
"Well it actually helped me learn a changeup. I never had one before. I threw a split finger fastball, which puts a lot of pressure on your shoulder so that's kind of in the back pocket, maybe lost forever," Norton said.
"It made me correct my mechanics as far as staying straight ahead and not putting a lot of pressure on my shoulder so it helped with the changeup, because I needed a third pitch to go along with that fastball-slider.
"I kind of had to reinvent myself as far as what my approach was. I think it's helped me become a better pitcher and more consistent in strikes."
Norton replaced his split finger fastball with a slider, which relieves some of the pressure on his shoulder.
"I feel like I maybe have some more room to make. If I can gain some flexibility, that's the biggest thing for me — if I can gain some flexibility," he said. "They really put a limit on my shoulder [due to the surgery].
"If I can gain a little more flexibility, I can bump it up a little bit as far as my velocity. My strength is good. I don't think that's a problem. I just feel like if I can get a little more flexibility in my shoulder I can open it up a little bit."
He is focusing on his changeup more than any other pitch this season.
"I need to work on consistently locating my fastball," Norton said. "I can work on consistency on my slider and my changeup just like every pitcher, but I think if I can locate my fastball where it needs to be I think I'm going to have success so that's the number one thing for me.
"Obviously a lot of pitchers sit down and look at the numbers as far as being successful. Obviously, I'd like to have a low ERA, I'd like to have the least walks as possible, I'd like to strike guys out, but I just want to make it through the game and make a difference and help the club win."
Norton Finally Returning
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