Retirement far from Gordon's mind
Phillies reliever plans to continue touring new parks in 2009
WASHINGTON -- Reliever Tom Gordon has always taken pride in his longevity, and he smiled on Tuesday when told that Nationals Park would become the 45th venue in which he's pitched -- if he is handed the ball during the Phillies' three-game series with the Nationals.With a list that includes two parks each in Arlington (Texas), Baltimore, Chicago (White Sox), Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and Toronto -- and the Tokyo Dome in Japan -- Gordon hasn't missed many. Adding a second park in Washington, D.C., will complete the circle further. "That's a lot," Gordon said. "These ballparks are amazing to see, and being able to see the new places and how the game has changed -- that keeps you going." Gordon is far from being finished, and at 40, he feels he still has miles left in his right shoulder. With new parks opening in New York for both the Mets and the Yankees next season, and facilities in Minnesota and Florida in the planning stages, the veteran reliever could add to his list. "I have to wear the uniform once in new Yankee Stadium, and I don't plan on wearing it as a coach," Gordon said. Gordon said he would settle for Citi Field, the Mets' new ballpark, if the Phillies retain him for next season. Philadelphia holds a $4.5 million option for 2009 and must decide on it within 15 days after the World Series. While Gordon's ERA stands at 4.50, the veteran has posted a 2.04 ERA since allowing five runs on Opening Day. Since then, he's allowed runs in only three of his 19 outings. "If he continues to pitch the way he is now and he stays healthy, we have to look at [bringing him back] very seriously," Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "As is always the case, we'll let it play out, then make a decision. A lot of it will depend on the makeup of the club next year." With closer Brad Lidge possibly departing via free agency, keeping Gordon might seem to have added importance, since he can fill a setup or closing role. The most important thing for Gordon is his health, and he maintains that the offseason work on his right shoulder has him feeling good. Going one year at a time is fine with Gordon. "At the age I'm at, I think it's better to concentrate that way," Gordon said. "I don't want to put myself in a position where I can't do something. Right now, the strength I'm having is starting to pay off. I really like this organization. When I was [injured] last season, I could count on the Phillies for support. And I'll never rule out the Braves." Speaking of the Braves, aside from never being part of a World Series-winning team, Gordon has one other regret -- not having pitched in Atlanta's Fulton-County Stadium. Gordon grew up in Florida and often watched the Braves on TBS, and he always pictured himself pitching for them -- with a tomahawk across his chest -- in that stadium. Gordon spent each season from 1988-96 in the American League, and Turner Field replaced Fulton-County Stadium in 1997. He still thinks of Fulton-County Stadium when he drives by where it used to be. Gordon lists Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium as his favorites. "When I first came up [in 1988], all the ballparks were big," Gordon said. "Some of them were boring baseball/football stadiums. The new parks are much better. The atmosphere is more exciting. I'm just blessed to have played in so many different places. Man, I must be getting up there."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.