Blue Jays-Yankees Preview

Daniel Norris has to be the only major league prospect who earned a $2 million signing bonus right out of high school yet chooses to live in a 1978 Volkswagen van.

The 21-year-old left-hander will make just his second career start for the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night against CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees.

Norris has been carving out his own niche since signing with the Jays (1-1), living out of his van in the offseason, cooking on a portable stove, working out in a Wal-Mart parking lot, surfing and writing in a journal at night with a flashlight on his head.

While his take on the millionaire lifestyle may seem odd to some, Toronto is pretty excited about Norris' potential after he had the best strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio (11.8) in the minors last season behind a dancing fastball that tops out at 96-97 mph.

He struck out 29 batters over 24 2-3 innings in the spring, including eight in six innings against Houston on March 30, and is excited to face Sabathia at Yankee Stadium.

"It's an awesome opportunity," Norris told MLB's official website. "It's something you dream about growing up, getting to open the season in New York and face one of the best lefties in a long time. It's going to be fun.

"I'm looking forward to going out there and winning a ballgame."

Norris was a September callup in 2014 and worked 3 1-3 innings of relief over four appearances before getting his first start Sept. 25 against Seattle. He allowed two runs and one hit in 3 1-3 innings with two walks and one strikeout in Toronto's 7-5 loss.

One of his relief appearances came on the road against the Yankees (1-1) on Sept. 21, and he gave up a solo homer to Brian McCann in an inning of work.

Although Norris was not pleased with his lone start nor his 5.40 ERA during his first stint in the majors, saying at the time "my stuff is not really there," he showed what may be in store this season by retiring the first eight Mariners he faced.

Sabathia is no stranger to that type of dominance, but at age 34 it remains to be seen if he can return to his Cy Young-winning form after his 2014 season ended with the discovery of degenerative knee cartilage that was repaired via surgery.

He made eight starts last year but didn't pitch after May 10, and he was coming off his worst statistical season in 2013, going 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA. Sabathia, who started opening day from 2006-2014 before giving way to Masahiro Tanaka this season, has said that his struggles that year were due in large part to knee pain that's no longer an issue.

"I'm not hurt. I feel good. That's the only way I'm judging myself right now," Sabathia said during spring training. "I'm encouraged."

Sabathia may feel encouraged about his knee, but his spring wasn't exactly what New York had hoped for. He started three times against major league competition and had one minor-league outing. Over ten innings in the big league games, he allowed nine runs on 14 hits - three of which were home runs.

Seeing the Blue Jays might be exactly what he needs. Sabathia is 10-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his last 12 starts versus Toronto.

He'll look to give the Yankees another solid effort after Michael Pineda worked six strong innings before New York rallied for three runs in the eighth to beat the Blue Jays 4-3 on Wednesday. Chase Headley hit a tiebreaking single that deflected off the wrist of reliever Brett Cecil.

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