Derek Norris' fizzle toward the end of last season did not go unnoticed - by Norris himself.
"I don't think I would have made the adjustments I made this offseason if that hadn't happened," the A's second-year catcher said. "I know my body started to take a little toll. I'd never played into September and October, and I could definitely feel it and how it affected me.
"More important, once we got into areas I'm not used to, my mind got clouded, and I didn't stick with my game plan. I started to dig myself deeper holes."
Norris hit .190 over the final 31 games and was 1-for-12 in the Division Series against Detroit, so back home in Wichita, Kan., Norris set about remaking his body and his swing.
He employed a local trainer, Charlie Rose, at Genesis Health Club, he followed a strict diet, and he lost more than 10 pounds and increased his strength. He also honed his swing while working with a coach, Paul Sanigorski, and has rectified his major problem: He was "leaking out" with his front hip, a common hitters' malady, and that made sliders and any outside pitches hard for him to handle.
Now, Norris, who turned 24 last week, is back to hitting drives the opposite way, using the whole field, which is when he's at his best.
"I'm excited," he said. "I'm hearing nothing but compliments."
He has few kind words to say, however, about his offseason nemesis. "I hate the Stairmaster," he said in disgust.


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