BRADENTON, Fla. -- Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny
, one of the Pittsburgh Pirates
' top two starters at the beginning of last season, was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis in a surprising move Wednesday.
The Pirates were unhappy with Gorzelanny's lack of progress coming off a season in which he went 6-9 with a 6.66 ERA, the highest among major league pitchers with 20 or more starts.
Gorzelanny was the club's top starter in 2007, going 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA on a team that lost 94 games. He was demoted to Triple-A last July 4 before returning to Pittsburgh, where he had a 7.13 ERA over his final four starts.
This spring, Gorzelanny was 0-0 with a 7.00 ERA, giving up eight hits and five walks in only nine innings.
The Pirates have two open spots in the rotation and had not indicated that Gorzelanny was no long under consideration. After allowing two runs on five hits in three innings Sunday against Tampa Bay, Gorzelanny said he was focusing on pitching well in his final few spring training starts to get ready for the season.
Left-handers Paul Maholm
and Zach Duke
and right-hander Ian Snell
appear to have spots locked up, leaving right-handers Ross Ohlendorf
, Virgil Vasquez
and Jeff Karstens
competing for the remaining spots.
The Pirates also optioned outfield prospect Jose Tabata to Double-A Altoona. The 20-year-old Tabata, dealt by the Yankees late last season, was impressive during his first spring training stay with the Pirates, hitting .407 with five RBIs in 11 games.
The moves leave 43 players in the Pirates' camp.