A-Rod to have hip surgery, miss 6-9 weeks

March 8, 2009 12:53:14 PM PDT
Alex Rodriguez will have arthroscopic hip surgery Monday and is expected to miss six to nine weeks. The Yankees slugger will need further surgery after the season. The diagnosis by Dr. Marc Philippon on Sunday was yet another jolt to Rodriguez during a tumultuous month in which the three-time AL MVP admitted using steroids from 2001-03 while with Texas.

Philippon spoke from Vail, Colo., on a conference call with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Philippon, a noted hip specialist with the Steadman Hawkins Clinic, will perform the procedure. Also on the call was team physician Chris Ahmad.

Philippon is confident in the "85-90 percent range" that Rodriguez will be able to play through the entire regular season.

"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. This operation will not completely correct the hip. More aggressive surgery would have sidelined Rodriguez three to four months.

"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."

Rodriguez has a torn labrum and a cyst in his right hip. The cyst was drained Wednesday, and he had additional tests Friday to test the hip's strength and flexibility.

His 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.

"Because of all the test findings, analysis, the function of Alex, I feel it's in his best interest to have his labrum repaired, remove part of his impingement and therefore stabilize his labrum," he said. "The goal here is to allow Alex to rehab rapidly in a safe manner."

Rodriguez will stay in Colorado for the foreseeable future.

"We'll keep Alex with us certainly for the first few weeks," said Philippon, who has treated several sports stars including golfer Greg Norman and figure skater Tara Lipinski. "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."

Rodriguez could swing a bat as a range of motion drill as soon as seven days after surgery.

On Thursday, Rodriguez's brother, Joe Dunand, told ESPNdeportes.com said 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. Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon, speaking from Lakeland, where New York was to play the Detroit Tigers, said Rodriguez was doing the "right thing" in addressing this matter now.

"Now we know that we're going to lose him for a little bit of time. ... I think it's better to get it out of the way especially since he's going to be in New York for eight more years after this year, so you might as well take care of it," he said.

Rodriguez is in the second season of a record $275 million, 10-year contract. Now, New York must try replace its third baseman and cleanup hitter, placing further responsibility in the batting order on new first baseman Mark Teixeira.

The leading candidate from 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 in six major league seasons.

"It's going to create something different for us, so we're going to have to take a look at some of these other guys," manager Joe Girardi said. "There's still four weeks left in camp, and it opens up an opportunity for someone."

Last year, Rodriguez was sidelined from April 28 to May 20 because of a strained right quadriceps - his fifth trip to the disabled list in his career. An MRI exam at that time showed what Cashman called an "irregularity" in the right hip.

The labrum is cartilage that lines the hip joint. It can be torn through injury or repetitive wear and tear. When arthroscopic surgery is recommended, the doctor makes small incisions to insert specialized instruments into the joint space and either removes the torn piece of labrum or repairs the cartilage with a suture.

Rodriguez's 138 games last season were his fewest since 1999, when he tore cartilage in his left knee during a spring training drill. He played in the first two games of that season with Seattle, then was put on the disabled list April 7 and missed 32 games until he returned May 14.

Since joining the Yankees before the 2004 season, Rodriguez has averaged 42 homers and 123 RBIs, with a .303 average.

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