Gorzelanny goes further in latest start

Gorzelanny goes further in latest start

BRADENTON, Fla. -- After not being able to make it through his scheduled two innings in his last Grapefruit League start, Tom Gorzelanny made four innings of work vs. the Red Sox look like it wasn't even enough on Sunday.

The left-handed starter continues to progress in what was just his third start so far this spring. He was set back early because of shoulder soreness, and an off-day also forced him to miss an outing. Gorzelanny did, however, throw a few innings in a simulated game last Tuesday to stay on schedule.

Needing only 49 pitches to make it through his day's work on Sunday, Gorzelanny looked to be right on track for Opening Day.

"It feels good to get out there and get your work in," Gorzelanny said. "You get a really good idea of where you're at and how much more you need to do. Facing a lineup like [the Red Sox] is good work."

The Red Sox dented the scoreboard against Gorzelanny with a Dustin Pedroia homer in the first inning, before the southpaw held the rest of the Boston lineup to just two more hits before he exited. Sandwiched in those four innings of work were also two impressive swinging strikeouts of Manny Ramirez -- both on fastballs.

"He got more aggressive in the strike zone," manager John Russell said afterward. "And when he needed to, he reached back and got a little extra something on his fastball. That's one of the things that he's capable of doing. I really like the way he stepped it up a little bit. "

Those results were in stark contrast to his last outing, when Gorzelanny allowed more runs (five) than he recorded outs (four) on March 6. In total, he had pitched just 2 1/3 spring innings coming into Sunday's game.

Gorzelanny is scheduled to make two more Spring Training starts before the start of the regular season. If he stays on his normal five days of rest, that final spring outing would be on March 26. As a result, Gorzelanny's turn in the rotation would then be scheduled to come in Atlanta on March 31 -- the Pirates' Opening Day.

Russell has not committed to an Opening Day starter yet, though he said that he expects to name one early this week. With a team-leading 14 wins last season, it would seem that Gorzelanny would be the front-runner to earn the spot.

"I have not heard a thing. When they say pitch, I pitch," said Gorzelanny. "If I do get it, that'd be awesome. It'd be great. I'd be totally honored. But I'd be honored to pitch another day."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.