TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — At last, Alex Rodriguez has a plan for his hip injury.
The New York Yankees slugger was scheduled for surgery Monday that will sideline him for six to nine weeks — and that's not all. He'll need a second operation after the season, assuming he can play all the way through.
Dr. Marc Philippon, who was set to perform the initial procedure in Colorado, said he's confident Rodriguez will be able to stay in the lineup this year once he recovers.
"It kind of gives us a little closure on it. We know what's going to happen now," New York manager Joe Girardi said.
The decision Sunday came after Rodriguez and the Yankees spent the week mulling treatment options for his torn labrum, and it was yet another jolt to the three-time MVP during a tumultuous month in which he admitted using steroids from 2001-03 with Texas.
The arthroscopic procedure gives Rodriguez a chance to return early this season — general manager Brian Cashman said he expects A-Rod back "sometime in May." But it also means he'll need another, more extensive operation in the fall.
Philippon said Rodriguez ultimately decided (with the team's support) to put off that surgery, which likely would have kept him out until at least July because it could require three to four months of rehabilitation.
Still, his injury not only leaves the Yankees with a huge void at third base and in the middle of their lineup, it causes major concerns about the long-term health of a player in the second year of a record $275 million, 10-year contract.
"Well, it's better than him missing the whole year," Girardi said. "It could have been a lot worse."
A noted hip specialist with the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic, Philippon spoke to reporters from Vail, Colo., on a conference call Sunday with Cashman. Also on the call was team physician Chris Ahmad.
Philippon said he is confident in the "85-90 percent range" that Rodriguez will be able to play the rest of the regular season after he recuperates from surgery.
"I firmly believe this approach will be successful and allow Alex to return," Philippon said. "We've had very good success with this approach. Short term, we feel the risk is very limited that he will re-tear his labrum during that six-, seven-month period."
The decision eliminates the option of Rodriguez treating the injury with rest and rehab and playing through the season without surgery. But this operation will not completely correct the hip.
"The surgery that will just repair the labrum tear right now would shorten his rehab," Cashman said. "Then, following the conclusion of the season, going in and repair the remaining aspects that need to be repaired."
Now that a treatment plan has been chosen, Cashman said Rodriguez is feeling better.
"When it first happened, he said he was 'bummed.' That was the exact word," Cashman said. "Alex texted me and he was really positive. He is excited. This is what he wanted to do."
Rodriguez also has a cyst in his right hip that was drained Wednesday. He had additional tests Friday to test the hip's strength and flexibility.
Once he returns to the lineup, Rodriguez will likely get more days off than usual.
Cashman could not guarantee that A-Rod will be ready for the start of spring training next year following the second surgery this fall.
The Yankees have an insurance policy that will reimburse some of Rodriguez's $32 million salary this year, a baseball official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team doesn't discuss insurance publicly. Typically, insurance on baseball contracts pays back a team a specified percentage of the salary of a player on the disabled list, after a period of days for a deductible.
Rodriguez's hip had been fine until he experienced stiffness during spring training this year. The injury forced the 12-time All-Star to skip the World Baseball Classic, where he was to play for the Dominican Republic.
Philippon attributed the labrum tear to the rotational stress that Rodriguez — "a very strong hitter, strong batter" — places on his hip.
After surgery, Rodriguez will stay in Colorado for at least a few weeks.
"The main reason being we're going to put him on the fast track so we will be very aggressive on his rehab. We'll check on Alex twice a day," said Philippon, who has treated several sports stars including golfer Greg Norman and figure skater Tara Lipinski. "The goal here is to allow Alex to rehab rapidly in a safe manner."
Rodriguez could swing a bat in range-of-motion drills as soon as seven days after surgery.
"It's better news than some of the reports. It's good for him. He can get that out of the way and hopefully get back to us soon," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said at the WBC in Toronto. "We can't sit around and wait for him to come back. You've got to go out there and play. That's what good teams are about. It's more than one person."
On Thursday, Rodriguez's brother, Joe Dunand, told ESPNdeportes.com that the slugger was going to have surgery, with a projected 10-week recovery. But later that day Cashman said A-Rod would be treated conservatively in the hope of avoiding surgery.
The leading candidate within the organization to take over at third is Cody Ransom, a 33-year-old who has a .251 average and 24 RBIs in 183 at-bats over six major league seasons.
Since joining the Yankees before the 2004 season, Rodriguez has batted .303 while averaging 42 homers and 123 RBIs.
AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum and Mike Fitzpatrick in New York contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
|< Prev||Next >|