While playing tennis in late November, Lonborg began feeling pain in his shoulder when he served, a depressing turn of events because the same muscles are used in a tennis serve as in pitching. In December he went to a sports medicine specialist at Boston's Children's Hospital who found that while Lonborg had rested after his return from Florida, his muscles had atrophied. He began a new regimen of exercises to once again build up the shrunken muscles. It worked, and Lonborg now feels so strong that he figures he will be able to pitch for another four or five years. But he does not talk about winning 20 this season. For once, a player who claims he is taking it one game at a time has good reason to mean it.
At his present one-at-a-time rate, Lonborg could lead the Phillies to a division title. Before the season began, Philadelphia, which has enough good hitters to stock two pennant contenders, seemed too short on pitching to win a championship. But by the end of last week, the Phils had a three-game lead in the National League East, largely because of the work of Lonborg and another revitalized pitcher, Lefthander Steve Carlton (4-1).
Lonborg's victory over the Mets was typical of his new style. He struck out only two batters—but his sharp control kept him from walking any. He allowed nine hits, but seven of them were relatively harmless singles, just the type batters tend to get on low outside pitches they cannot pull. And best of all, when Lonborg woke up the next morning his arm still felt like a winner.