PITTSBURGH -- Tom Gorzelanny learned on Friday that his already tumultuous season has come to a premature end. After a visit with a specialist in Pittsburgh, he learned that he had suffered a ligament sprain in his left middle finger on Wednesday.

Gorzelanny was removed from his start against Houston on Wednesday after feeling a pop in the middle finger of his pitching hand during the third inning. He has been wearing a splint on the finger since.

The good news is that there is no tear, meaning that after a few weeks of rest, he will be able to resume throwing. Because the offseason is on the horizon, though, the left-hander anticipates waiting a little longer than necessary before picking up a baseball again.

Knowing that his 2008 season is in the books, Gorzelanny stepped back on Friday to take a little bit of time to reflect on what has been the most trying season of his young career.

"The way the season went kind of hurts your confidence a little bit, but you take it for what it's worth," Gorzelanny said. "I learned so much from this and through going through so much adversity. I learned how to handle it and what I need to do. This is not a level where you can just come in and hope for the best. You have to be ready. You have to prepare for it."

After emerging as one of the most promising young lefties in the league in 2007, Gorzelanny was expected to anchor the Pirates' rotation. Those expectations, though, appeared doomed from the start. A minor shoulder injury during Spring Training -- coupled with a lack of above-average offseason conditioning -- was never totally overcome.

"I can honestly say that I wasn't 100 percent ready, and I wasn't fully healthy throughout the season," he said on Friday. "I need to prepare for that during the offseason. I have a nice long offseason ahead of me, and I look forward to taking full advantage of it and working [hard] to be ready for next season."

Gorzelanny finished the season at 6-9 with a 6.66 ERA, and his walk total (70) exceeded his total number of strikeouts (67).

This was a season that also included a startling demotion to Triple-A in early July after Gorzelanny proved unable to remedy his efficiency and control problems at the Major League level. His results after his return -- 14 earned runs allowed in 17 2/3 innings (four starts) -- showed minimal, if any, improvement.

However, Gorzelanny sees that lack of success as a springboard for long-term success. Why? Because he intends to channel it into a learning experience.

"For how bad it's been, there's a million positives I found out this season," he said. "I realized what I need to do to prepare for the season and what I need to do to be successful at this level.

"I've heard of a few big-name guys who have done the same thing I have done and have obviously gotten out of it. I've always got to look at the good things and put the rest behind."