CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Tom Gordon is reinventing himself again. After 10 years, the reliever has returned to pitching from the windup, and has been pleased with what he thinks is improved tempo and crisper pitches. Because this old trick is new again for Gordon, he's had to relearn some things.
"After 10-12 years, you've got to do something different," Gordon said. "Now scouts say, 'What's this guy coming up with now?' More advanced scouting gives guys a little better edge at times. Hopefully, it does give guys something else to think about and get them off what I've done the past 10 years." Gordon said he started pitching from the stretch over the winter and liked the way it felt. He was uncomfortable Wednesday night in Toronto, but he's getting there. The veteran had an adventurous two-thirds of an inning Friday, when he started the ninth. He was let down by his defense during a 28-pitch outing, which led to two unearned runs. He hopes to appear in "three or four" of the Phillies' remaining eight Spring Training games. Rowand sent home: Aaron Rowand needed a break, and manager Charlie Manuel gave it to him. The skipper sent home his struggling center fielder for two days to clear his head. He didn't even dress Friday, and will work out Saturday, but he didn't make the trip to Sarasota. Rowand is hitting .172 this spring (10-for-52), with one homer. He entered the day with the most at-bats (58) and had played in every day since March 9. He went 0-for-3 on Thursday against the Red Sox and fell down striking out of a pitch from Tim Wakefield. "I feel jelly-legged -- just tired," Rowand said after that game. "I sent him home to rest today," Manuel said. "When he doesn't get any hits, he worries about it. If he gets a couple of hits, he'll be all right. He's been really pressing." The Natural: Roy Hobbs, er, Greg Dobbs, did it again. Despite not having played since Sunday with a sore left wrist, Dobbs rolled off the bench and hit a three-run homer in Friday's 7-4 loss to Atlanta. That morning, Dobbs hit off the tee for the first time since hurting himself. Manuel asked him to sit on the bench -- which he did in his sneakers -- before being told to put on his spikes in case a pinch-runner was needed.
With right-hander Chad Paronto warming, Manuel asked Dobbs if he could hit.As a player trying to make the 25-man roster, there's only one right answer. "I said, 'Yeah, I'll hit,'" Dobbs said. Athletic Trainer Mark Andersen hurriedly taped Dobbs' wrist, and the third baseman took as many phantom swings as possible. He found a pitch to his liking from Paronto, and it landed over the wall in left-center field -- his fourth of the spring to raise his average to .372. It's something his fictional alter ego would've done, though Dobbs denied that he used "Wonder Boy" for his swing. "One of the guys carved a lighting bolt in there," Dobbs said. Dobbs said his wrist still isn't 100 percent, but he can live with it. With a bench spot available to him, he had to get back as soon as possible. "Especially at this moment, [being out] was weighing very heavily on my mind," he said. "To get that first swing out of the way was big." It's OK: Defending National League MVP Ryan Howard went 0-for-3, dropping his Spring average to .239 -- with two homers. "He just hasn't found his swing yet," Manuel said. "He's all right. We'll keep him." Philling in: Carlos Ruiz said he's feeling better, but he isn't expected to throw for a few more days. He'll get looked at by team doctor Michael Ciccotti on Saturday and isn't sure whether he'll be ready for Opening Day. ... Right-hander Geoff Geary (strained left hamstring) threw off a mound Friday, and he hopes to pitch in Saturday's game vs. the Reds. ... Matt Smith (left groin) pitched Friday and surrendered a two-run homer to Matt Diaz. Up next: In three Grapefruit League games, right-hander Adam Eaton has allowed six earned runs in 11 2/3 innings, for a 4.63 ERA, with one walk and seven strikeouts. The right-hander is slated to start the fifth game of the regular season, on April 8, though that can still be shifted. He's scheduled to oppose Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo at Ed Smith Stadium at 1:05 p.m. ET in Sarasota, Fla., 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.