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Posted at 9:52 PM ET, 03/10/2011

Tom Gorzelanny takes positives out of rough first outing

By Adam Kilgore

Tom Gorzelanny understood the black-and-white details were grim. In the box score, his first big league appearance in a Nationals uniform, tonight against the Houston Astros, looked like this: 2 1/3 innings pitched, three runs (two earned), five hits, three walks, one strikeout and one wild pitch.

"It didn't look pretty," Gorzelanny said. "I never want to look at a box score and see that I did bad."

And yet, Gorzelanny culled some positives from his uneven start, during which he threw 47 pitches. Only 23 of those were strikes, but Gorzelanny felt like most of the pitches that missed were at least around the plate - "I wasn't erratic, all over the place," Gorzleanny said. He also squirmed out of some jams, allowing one run - and it was unearned - it the first two innings despite allowing six base runners.

"There were a lot of positives," Gorzelanny said. "I think they definitely outweigh the negatives."

Gorzelanny had not pitched in a major league game before tonight because of his bout with walking pneumonia right before spring training started. Those problems, Gorzelanny said, are behind him.

"I feel totally normal now," Gorzelanny said. "Everything is good. I'm on track just like everybody else. This was a good start."

Gorzelanny could afford to take a relaxed outlook of his start given his current status. Early this morning, Manager Jim Riggleman said the plan, while there is some competition for the fifth spot, is to give Gorzelanny the fifth-starter spot.

Chad Gaudin, who struck out six in five scoreless innings in the afternoon game today, and Ross Detwiler have both been impressive. But the situations of those three pitchers differ greatly. The Nationals acquired Gorzelanny in a trade shortly after he signed a one-year, $2.1 million contract. He is also out of options. Gaudin, meanwhile, is a minor-league free agent, and Detwiler has minor league options remaining.

If Gorzelanny could change one thing about his outing, it would have been the way he located his slider. He felt his arm dropping down, which threw off his control of the pitch. Otherwise, though, Gorzelanny looked past his rocky results.

"I feel like I'm where I need to be," he said.

By Adam Kilgore  | March 10, 2011; 9:52 PM ET
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Next: An action-packed three innings for Bryce Harper


I've gotta say, if opening day were today, Gorzellanny would not make the rotation. Indeed, I do not see any scenario based on reason and performance how he beats out Ross Detwiler, who has sparkled. Indeed, I don't see how he beats out Maya or Stammen the way things look right now.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | March 11, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Or Chad Gaudin.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | March 11, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse

If it's a money decision, please just say so!

Posted by: dand187 | March 11, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

It's not so much a money decision as a talent decision; as in, the Nationals want to hang onto as much talent as they can. If the Nats keep Gorzelanny and send Detwiler to AAA, they get to keep both players; if Gozelanny struggles they can call up Detwiler. But they cannot send Gorzelanny to AAA without exposing him to a waiver claim and probably losing him to another team - and if Detwiler struggles, they have lost part of their safety net. It's a long season - six months, 162 games. I think all three pitchers (Gorzelanny, Maya and Detwiler) will get starts for the Nationals this season.

Spring training stats are frequently a mirage; you also have to take into account a player's history. Detwiler and Maya have looked good so far, but neither has ever had a successful season at the ML level. To assume that two weeks of work in Viera are the way to judge roster slots is a frequent talk radio caller mistake, but not one that a MLB team can afford to make.

Posted by: JCCfromDC | March 11, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Storen, Rodriguez and Morgan are stinking up the joint but you don't hear Riggleman talking about sending them down. It's a popularity contest with Riggleman. That's why he's never won and never will. He lives for his beloved double-switch. He does that, he's happy. How many games will they lose trying to get Pudge his 3000 hits?

Posted by: lp_lodestar | March 11, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's a question of sending Gorzo down, but if there are five other starters who've done significantly better than him in the spring, he may end up in long relief.

Posted by: elijah383 | March 11, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

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