When the Phillies moved Brett Myers to the bullpen, the decision seemed a little shocking. After all, how many times has a team converted its Opening Day starter into a reliever?

More often than you might think.

In fact, Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) member Jim Sweetman discovered eight occasions since saves became an official statistic in 1970 in which a pitcher who started the first game of the season for a team ended up with three or more saves in the same year.

Coincidentally, the record is held by Tom Gordon, 11 for the Red Sox in 1997.

It was Gordon's shoulder inflammation that has opened the door for Myers to close games. And Myers, who is 4-for-5 in save opportunities with an 1.08 earned run average since making the transition, would appear to be a lock to break his teammate's record.

"I hope he comes back so I don't have to set it," Myers said, sitting in front of his locker before last night's 4-3 win over the Brewers in which he had a blown save and also got the victory. "I'll do whatever it takes to help this team win. That's my mentality, that I'm just filling in for Flash right now."

But is that Charlie Manuel's mentality?

"I'll answer that when Gordon comes back," the manager said. "I don't see how I can answer that today."

Gordon was discharged from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he had been fighting pneumonia, on Monday. It remains uncertain when he'll be able to try to throw again. And, given that he was also sidelined with shoulder problems late last season, there are no guarantees how effective he'll be when he does.

"There are a lot of things I don't know for sure," Manuel said, when pressed on the subject."

Before he went on the disabled list, Gordon's velocity was fine but he didn't have the same hard breaking ball that has been a key to making him an effective pitcher.

By the way, here are the other Opening Day starters who went on to have some success out of the bullpen in the same season: Bud Black, nine saves for the 1986 Royals; Al Holland, five for the 1982 Giants; Andy Messersmith, five for the 1970 Angels; Jerry Koosman, five for the 1981 Twins; Dustin Hermanson, four for the 2000 Expos; Mike Parrott, three for the 1980 Mariners; and Koosman, three for the 1982 White Sox.

Never mind

Any hopes the Phillies might have had of adding veteran Ron Villone to their bullpen were short-circuited when the Yankees called the 37-year-old lefthander up from their Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre farm club.

Any hopes the Phillies might have had of adding veteran Ron Villone to their bullpen were short-circuited when the Yankees called the 37-year-old lefthander up from their Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre farm club.

Villone signed a minor league contract with the Yankees during the offseason that came with an invitation to spring training and a clause that allowed him to request free agency on May 15 if he hadn't been promoted by then. If the request wasn't granted within 24 hours, he could then sign with any team.

Given the Phillies' ongoing search for bullpen help, they would have been a logical team to make an offer to agent Scott Boras.

Except that they never got the chance. The Yankees decided to send lefthander Sean Henn, who had an option remaining, back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and bring up Villone. If they hadn't, they almost certainly would have lost him and gotten nothing in return.

General hospital

Reliever Ryan Madson (strained oblique) is scheduled to make rehab appearances for Double A Reading on Friday (1 inning) and Sunday (2 innings). If he doesn't have a setback, he could be ready to rejoin the team when it begins its next road trip at Florida next Tuesday.

Reliever Ryan Madson (strained oblique) is scheduled to make rehab appearances for Double A Reading on Friday (1 inning) and Sunday (2 innings). If he doesn't have a setback, he could be ready to rejoin the team when it begins its next road trip at Florida next Tuesday.

First baseman Ryan Howard (left quadriceps strain) will not make the Florida-Atlanta trip. He'll remain in Philadelphia to work with former Phillies trainer Jeff Cooper, who retired at the end of last season. He's been hired by the team as a consultant. *