CLEARWATER, Fla. -- There's no cause for alarm, the Phillies insist. So make nothing of closer Tom Gordon's flight back to Philadelphia on Monday for an examination. He was scheduled to visit with team doctor Michael Ciccotti on Monday. "No," said general manager Pat Gillick, when asked if anyone was worried. "[The appointment] was because of [Wednesday's] day off."
Pitching coach Rich Dubee said Gordon had experienced forearm and elbow stiffness, though the veteran righty has said before that's normal for this time of year. He breezed through his first two outings this spring, one on Tuesday against the Pirates, and one on Saturday against the Astros. Gordon allowed a hit in each of those outings, while walking none and striking out two. The team had planned to nurse him along this spring as they try to keep him healthy, and avoid the shoulder issues that caused him to miss 2 1/2 weeks in 2006. This visit is part of that. "It just made sense for him to go up there," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We want to check him out. There's nothing alarming about this." Since the team is off Wednesday, Gordon could have pitched in a Minor League game to keep in line with what has become an every four-day routine. Dubee said he'll figure out a schedule when Gordon returns on Wednesday. Gordon could throw again on Friday. "There's a chance," Dubee said. "I need to talk to Flash. He's just getting checked out. Flash has thrown every time he's been scheduled [this spring]. He threw his bullpen in between starts and he's been right on schedule. He's fine." The Phillies need him to be. Gordon saved 34 games in 39 chances last season and made the National League All-Star team, but right shoulder inflammation cost him 2 1/2 weeks. He spent the offseason on a rigorous strengthening program and said his shoulder feels great. If Gordon were to miss any time, the bullpen becomes more of a concern. Antonio Alfonseca has thrown well so far, and might be the leading candidate to close, or Brett Myers could be pressed into duty. The starter volunteered for that role earlier this spring, if needed, and the Phillies kicked the idea around over the winter. Myers as closer would also solve the issue of having too many starters. Of course, talk like that is premature, since Gordon is going for a routine checkup. "We're taking it slow with Flash for a reason," Dubee said. "We're very upbeat. I'm fine with Flash's health. I'm fine with the program he's on. He threw the ball very, very well on Saturday."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.