ST. LOUIS -- When Phillies reliever Tom Gordon missed nearly two months last season recovering from a strained right rotator cuff and an upper respiratory infection, it turned out to be a good thing, baseball-wise.
With unexpected rest, the right-hander returned fresh to dominate in September, posting a 1.32 ERA in 15 games, and helping the Phillies win the National League East.
The Phils are hoping for similar results this season, as their 40-year-old setup man worked his way back from right elbow inflammation. Gordon began that journey on Sunday, tossing two-thirds of an inning in Class A Clearwater's 6-2 loss to Dunedin at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
Gordon allowed two earned runs on a hit and a walk. He struck out one and surrendered a home run to Brian Dopirak, typical results for a first outing in nearly a month.
The veteran hurler could throw again on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how he feels. He could rejoin the Phillies anytime before Sept. 1.
"When he's ready, we'll bring him back up here," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think he's going to be very serviceable for us."
When healthy, Gordon will augment a stacked bullpen that can form a three-headed setup monster -- along with Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero -- for closer Brad Lidge.
That was the thought with Gordon, who has spent time on the disabled list in each of his three seasons in Philadelphia -- get him ready for September.
"That was one of the reasons we decided to shut him down when we did [on July 6]," assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said. "We wanted a 100 percent Flash Gordon down the stretch. He can be a significant contributor if he's healthy and pitching like he's capable of pitching."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.