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The pitching competition goes on … without Gorzo

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BRADENTON, Fla. — Pirates starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny was in the mix for the final two spots of the starting pitching rotation.

Or so he thought.

Gorzelanny’s tryout is over — for now anyway — as he was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis Wednesday morning.

In four starts and nine innings this spring, Gorzelanny had a 7.0 ERA after allowing eight hits and walking five batters. Gorzelanny last pitched this past Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays when he gave up five hits and two runs in three innings — his longest outing of the spring.

Eliminating Gorzelanny from the competition leaves righthanders Ross Ohlendorf, Virgil Vasquez and Jeff Karstens competing for the final two slots. Lefties Paul Maholm and Zach Duke and righthander Ian Snell are the frontrunners for the first three spots.

Gorzelanny was scheduled to start Friday against the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps Karstens will get the nod instead of piggybacking on another starter’s outing. Then he’d get a chance to face the opponent’s best hitters as opposed to working the middle innings.

The Pirates made one other move this morning. Outfielder Jose Tabata — who was acquired from the New York Yankees this past July in the Xavier Nady trade — was optioned to Double-A Altoona.

It certainly won’t be the last of Tabata, a young, promising prospect. The 20-year old had an impressive spring offensively and defensively. He hit .407 with five RBI in 11 games.

• Here’s the Pirates’ lineup for today’s game at McKechnie Field:

Pirates 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Eric Hinske rf, 4. Ryan Doumit c, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Andy Laroche dh, 7. Neil Walker 3b, 8. Brian Bixler ss, 9. Jeff Salizar lf.

• Take note that Hinske — who signed as a free agent with the Pirates in January — is in the lineup for the first time since bruising his ribs during the Pirates’ second spring training game on Feb. 26.

— By Tricia Lafferty

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