Converted outfielder may start Thursday

This is what it has coome down to for the injury-riddled Yankees this season: their starting pitcher for Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Texas Rangers might turn out to be a 32-year-old journeyman minor leaguer who was an outfielder for the first 10 years of his professional baseball career.

The Yankees announced they have signed Brian Gordon, who had a 5-0 record and International League-leading 1.14 ERA for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs but had an opt-out in his deal since the parent club, the Philadelphia Phillies, has a starting staff with names like Lee, Oswalt, Halladay and Hamels.

No such problem with the Yankees, who just put Bartolo Colon on the DL with a hamstring injury and are pitch-poor rght now. Gordon is considered the front-runner to start Thursday's game, although Joe Girardi is notoriously secretive about revealing plans even one day in advance. Before Tuesday's game with the Rangers, Girardi grudgingly admitted that David Phelps might be recalled from AAA Scranton to start on Thursday, but that Hector Noesi, currently in the Yankees bullpen, might also get the nod. "We may not make that decision until Wednesday night,'' he said.

For the record, Gordon had hit 119 minor-league home runs before switching to the mound five years ago. He was tutored by Nolan Ryan in the Texas Rangers farm system, and made three major league appearances as a pitcher in 2008. According to reports, he was told to be "mentally prepared'' to start on Thursday, which, of course, does not mean he will.