Showered, dressed and done with his media responsibilities, Bud Norris was making the clubhouse rounds.
Hours after saying a few hellos, Norris was saying his goodbyes.
He'd done his job, flying into Oklahoma City on Saturday morning, keying the RedHawks' 4-3 win over Omaha on Saturday night and reassuring the Houston Astros he should catch a return flight on Sunday morning.
“It was nice seeing some of the guys I haven't since the spring, or a couple of the guys that have been up and down,” Norris said. “Nice to see some friendly faces, the manager and coaches.”
Secure in his big league rotation spot, Norris was in Oklahoma City for a rehab start. In the middle of a solid season with the Astros, sporting a 5-4 record and 4.81 ERA, Norris sprained his left knee a couple weeks back.
After some brief rest, Norris felt he was ready to return. To make sure, he took Saturday's one-day trip to Oklahoma City, using it as a pseudo-business vacation to make sure his body was right.
“I got in last night, just kind of crashed at the hotel, grabbed some dinner and watched the Astros game on TV,” Norris said. “Had a nice little morning to myself, grabbed some breakfast at IHOP and hit up some Best Buy and then got to the ballpark.”
And once he got there, Norris did what was necessary.
Limited to 75 pitches, he gave up two runs in five innings, earning a win for the first place RedHawks and a quick return to the Astros' rotation.
“Everything's been going good,” Norris said. “Felt pretty good out there, leg feels good. Got some cobwebs out, but like I said, I'm just glad the leg feels good, that's most important.”
But he also enjoyed the minor league atmosphere again, pitching in the Triple-A ranks for the first time since 2010.
“I haven't been here in awhile,” Norris said. “Haven't been (in Oklahoma City) since '09. Don't remember if I made a start here, but I remember it being a lot hotter last time I was here. They've always had good fans. There's always been people in the seats, which is nice, and it's a nice ballpark.”
On Saturday, he provided the crisp start in front of 10,009 fans, the RedHawks' largest home crowd of the year.
And now, fully healed, Norris prepares for his return flight to Houston, saying goodbye to his one-day teammates and preparing for a return flight to his day job.
A nice vacation for him, a nice win for Oklahoma City.
“I'm still a competitor, and I'm going to go out there and compete,” Norris said. “I know these guys are in first place, been playing really, really well, so I want to go out there and help them win a ballgame. They gave me a little cushion and I kept it right there for them.”