LOS ANGELES -- When you raise your arm as often as Tom Gordon has in his 19-year big-league career -- totaling 2,046 innings and 818 appearances -- wear and tear on a shoulder and elbow is part of it. Gordon had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in 1999 that cost him the 2000 season, so the elbow is out of the way. Could his shoulder be next? Not this season, and hopefully not next, Gordon said. The Phillies closer revealed before Tuesday's game that he's been pitching with a slightly torn labrum. He said he felt something in his shoulder since as early as 2005, while with the Yankees, and he received the diagnosis last season. His condition has worsened, though the right-hander said he believes he can manage.
"I'm excited about getting a chance to pitch again this year," said Gordon, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. "I'll just have to continue to trust it, and hopefully it'll work out." Gordon's expectation of continuing to pitch isn't unprecedented. Robert Person won 15 games for the Phillies in 2001 with a similar tear, and Pedro Martinez also fought through several seasons with shoulder issues. Gordon spoke with Dr. Lewis Yocum about this possibility six weeks ago. "[Yocum] said this is an injury that other pitchers have had, and they've pitched for three or four years in a row," Gordon said. "How long this has been occurring for me, I don't know. I started to feel some of the effects in late '05. In '06, I definitely had a while where I wasn't feeling as good as I would like. Most pitchers have that and are able to go out there a few more years after that. That's what I'm hoping." A few more years would put Gordon at 40 years old and at the end of his three-year, $18 million contract signed before the 2006 season, though the team has a $4.5 million option for 2009. If surgery is required at some point, he'll deal with it. For now, he'll pitch whenever the Phillies ask, though his injury concerns might force the Phillies to limit those appearances, and avoid back-to-back days. "If I can bounce back and hold up the remainder of this year, [surgery is] a question I'll have to answer," Gordon said. "Then we'll see where we are. If I can get through this year and next year and everything goes well, I don't know. I hope it doesn't get to that. Maybe it's just part of this roller coaster I have to go on until I get a better feel of this." Assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies were hopeful and confident of Gordon's continued ability to pitch. When they saw the results of the MRI taken in November 2005, he said it showed nothing other than regular use for a veteran pitcher. "We're confident we can manage this year and, hopefully, the next year," Amaro said. "We don't have any idea [beyond that]. That's like looking into a crystal ball. Any time you have a pitcher who has pitched as long as he has, there's always a risk." Highlights: While warming up for his 10th start of the season, Los Angeles backup and former Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal couldn't help but notice the Dodger Stadium scoreboard. In full diamond-vision size and splendor, Lieberthal was treated to a 15-minute video presentation of career highlights, the latest mock celebration of the seldom-used Lieberthal. "My last start [on July 3] was balloons and flowers, so this start they put my highlight video up there," Lieberthal said, rolling his eyes. "I suspect it's Luis Gonzalez. He was behind the flowers. He said it wasn't, so I don't know who it was this time." Lieberthal also questioned teammate Randy Wolf. "Nope," Wolf said. "I was blamed for it right away, but it wasn't me. I'd take credit for something like that. I'd be nice to Lieby." Lieberthal figures the perpetrator got an assist from Phillies video coordinator Kevin Camiscioli, who likely supplied the highlights, and Lieberthal figured the show was enjoyed by many of his former teammates. He knows his Dodgers mates enjoyed it, as they "clapped when I hit home runs and made good plays," he said. All that's left is to wonder what's in store for his next start. "This is going to be really tough to top," Lieberthal said. Philling In: Closer Brett Myers, out since May 23 with a strained right shoulder, threw a simulated game in Clearwater, Fla., and the team said he felt fine. The right-hander is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment Friday with Single-A Clearwater. Coming up: Right-hander Kyle Kendrick will take on the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley in the 3:10 ET series finale on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.