PHILADELPHIA -- Tom Gordon's road to returning began with a game of catch on Tuesday, and the closer said he hopes to pitch for the Phillies before the All-Star break. Gordon expressed this desire in his first public comments since landing on the 15-day disabled list on May 4 with a strained right rotator cuff. He might've been even closer if not for an upper respiratory infection that led to a five-day hospital day, beginning May 11. Neither he nor the Phillies have a clear timetable for when he can begin to throw off a mound.
"I feel better each and every day," Gordon said. "Right now, I'm just going to have to allow the pace to just take its course, listen to the doctors and not be trying to push this thing sooner than I have to. My shoulder feels a lot better. For me, being a baseball player, that's what we all think about, just hopefully your arm feels better. But right now, I've got some health issues, and I've got to make sure I'm healthy enough to play." Watching his son's baseball game on May 10, Gordon experienced chest pains and a headache. He flew from Florida to Philadelphia, and was hospitalized the next day. "I never felt anything like that to the point where I felt so miserable," Gordon said. "I had headaches for two days. I didn't know what to expect and what to do. Thank God I was able to get here and get to a hospital to where I could get seen. It actually gave me a little more time to allow my shoulder to get a little stronger, too, but that's not the way you want to do that." While recovering at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Gordon dropped nearly 10 pounds. His condition was so serious -- he called it "life and death" -- that it likely would've placed him on the disabled list by itself. The right-hander said he currently weighs 195 pounds, and wants to get to his normal playing weight of 200 pounds. He began a conditioning program May 21 in Clearwater, Fla., and has been running 20-25 minutes on a treadmill each day. "I think for the most part, the way things went in the hospital, I'm pretty much out of the woods with the upper-respiratory infection," Gordon said. "I still have some symptoms. I'm still short of breath. But for the most part, thank God, I'm a lot better than I was." Drabek out: Kyle Drabek, the team's first-round pick in 2006, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right-elbow inflammation. The move was retroactive to May 27. The right-hander is 5-1 with a 4.17 ERA in 10 appearances, nine starts. In 54 innings, he allowed 23 walks and 48 hits, including nine homers -- while striking out 46. "We don't think it's anything serious," said Steve Noworyta, the team's director of Minor Leagues. "It's just something he's never experienced before. Basically, now he'd be done with his high-school season. It's just something he might have felt a little funny." Noworyta called the move "precautionary" and didn't think Drabek would miss more than one or two starts. "Any time you hear that it puts up a red flag and we just wanted to make sure he's OK," he said. A good sign: Of the three homers Ryan Howard had hit in the past two games, the one he laced to left-field in Monday's loss to Arizona may be the best indicator of things to come. Howard sent a line drive out off left-hander Doug Davis to left field. At his most comfortable, Howard waits on balls in the batter's box and has tremendous opposite-field power. "That is when I start to feel pretty good, so when I get to go that way a little more consistently, it's a pretty good bet," Howard said. Coming Up: In his previous outing, Jamie Moyer beat the Braves for the first time since 1987. In doing so, he rebounded from his shortest outing of the season, a 3 1/3-inning effort against Toronto on May 19, which the Phillies lost, 13-2. Moyer has won four of his past six outings in typical Moyer fashion, keeping hitters off-balance with a wide-array of off-speed pitches and a low-80s fastball that rarely misses its target. Moyer has walked more than two in only two starts this season and struck out more than five just once.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.