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Norris returns to lineup after four-game absence

Norris returns to lineup after four-game absence

Norris returns to lineup after four-game absence

OAKLAND -- Derek Norris caught Sonny Gray's first career start in Oakland on Thursday after the A's signal caller missed four games with back spasms.

Oakland's right-handed hitting catcher was available in "emergency situations" the past two games, but the goal was always for him to start in Thursday's series finale with left-hander Erik Bedard starting for the Astros.

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Norris' back spasms made it difficult for him to stand as recently as four days ago, but he's good to go, though he said he doesn't anticipate being 100 percent.

Norris is batting .364 with seven walks and five home runs in 22 games since July 1 after a slump spanning May and June saw him hit .163. He's batting .299 with all eight of his home runs against left-handed pitching this season.

Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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