WASHINGTON -- Tom Gorzelanny's bullpen duty is a temp job. But, after consecutive nights of striking out key Nationals hitters with two out and two on, after also cleaning up the 10th inning Tuesday for his first relief victory since college, Gorzelanny may have earned not only a longer stay with the Pirates but vital experience that can improve his lot as a starter.
"We're very pleased," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said yesterday in a telephone interview. "He's come in, been very aggressive, attacked the zone, [shown] better command ... than he had last year as a starter and even better than he had in the minor leagues [this season], according to our reports."
Huntington and Pirates manager John Russell reiterated Gorzelanny's future is as a starter. Yet, this short-term relief role, replacing Tyler Yates (15-day disabled list, right elbow inflammation), may well be of long-term assistance.
"It does help," Gorzelanny said. "Actually use this as a learning experience."
Gorzelanny didn't make the club in spring training, Russell said, due to a lack of consistency: "He's got the stuff. He's got enough velocity. It's just the consistency of it, being able to throw strikes, keeping the same arm slot, keeping the same delivery. When he does that, he's very effective. We saw it out of the bullpen -- a short look, but it's there.
"Hopefully, this is a jump-start for him ... a push for him to boost his confidence, realize that he can attack the zone and get after it. What I would like to see is, his focus and intensity and the way he attacked the hitter [as a reliever] is the way he needs to do it as a starter. And we always hold onto the fact that he's going to be a major help for us at some point" as a starter.
Huntington called Gorzelanny "an option" to rejoin the Pirates' rotation if one of the current starters falters or gets hurt.
He added if Gorzelanny continues to pitch well in relief, "we might re-evaluate" whether to keep him or, as originally expected, return him to Indianapolis when Yates returns.
Thirty members of the Pirates' team party, more than half of them players, were given a one-hour, guided-tour visit of the White House yesterday, a day before President Obamawill welcome the Steelers.
"I thought we'd take a better tour," said infielder Ramon Vazquez, noting that it was brief and limited. "It was nice to be in there, though. Those paintings they got -- the 1800s, man."
Craig Monroe, as did others, expressed displeasure that the new president couldn't greet them.
"That was kind of disappointing," Monroe said.
The fact President Obama was busy with his day job, he added with a grin, "that stinks for him."
Among those who skipped the visit were infield/first-base coach Perry Hill, who visited with the 2003 champion Florida Marlins and remains a self-professed "George [Bush] man" from his days with the Texas Rangers that the former president used to own; and Russell, who offered, "I'd rather go with a World Series ring."
• While scouting for the first-year player draft next month, Huntington attended a game yesterday that included former University of Missouri pitcher Aaron Crow -- a 2008 first-rounder unsigned by the Nationals.
• Designated-hitter candidates for this weekend's three-game interleague series against the Chicago White Sox, the manager said: Eric Hinske, Monroe and Vazquez followed by Brandon Moss -- ex-American Leaguers all -- and Adam LaRoche.
Staff writer Dejan Kovacevic contributed to this report.