LOS ANGELES -- Phillies reliever Tom Gordon's visit to Dr. Lewis Yocum on Monday went as expected, with the orthopedist agreeing with team physician Michael Ciccotti's diagnosis.
Gordon has an injury to his right ulnar collateral ligament and the flexor pronator muscle, which rests on the inside of his elbow, as well as irritation to his ulnar nerve. A small piece of bone has also detached from his medial epicondyle.
"That's the biggest thing," athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said of the bone injury. "Unfortunately, that bony piece is attached to the ligament and the tendon."
In simpler language, the chances of Gordon returning to the Phillies this season are remote. Gordon has selected to delay surgery, which would likely cost him all of the 2009 season. With rehabilitation, the 40-year-old righty will wear a brace and visit Ciccotti again in three weeks.
"You never want to say can't, but I would say that it's highly unlikely that you're going to see Tom Gordon pitch this year for us," Sheridan said. "These are certain things that happen to players. When you think about the bone pulling off, I know that sounds kind of odd, but that actually happens sometimes. It's not the best-case scenario. It certainly isn't the norm, but at the same time, the hard part about this is that piece of bone isn't that big."
Sheridan said it's not a bad idea to see what develops over the next three weeks, then revisit his option to have surgery, which would be similar to the procedure known as Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery.
"I hate to lose Flash," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He was one of the big parts of our bullpen and keeping him healthy was something we definitely needed to do. We're going to miss him, but somebody has to step up and do his job. I know we have people down there who can do that. Flash brought a lot of experience and knowledge to our bullpen.
"I hate that he's done for the season. This gives him a chance to take care of his arm and get healthy. It's up to him to decide what he wants to do. I think he'll pitch again if he wants to, because he has tremendous work ethic and loves the game."
Gordon is in the final season of a three-year, $18 million contract, and the team will likely pay a $1 million buyout rather than exercise a $4.5 million team option.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.