The Yankees won’t know exactly how severe Alex Rodriguez’s left hip injury is until he goes under the knife, according to a pair of surgeons.
But when Rodriguez does recover from the procedure — the Yankees announced the timetable is four-to-six months — the third baseman should no longer have serious problems with either hip.
“The biggest thing is what happens at the time of the surgery,” said Dr. James Gladstone, a sports medicine specialist and co-chief of sports medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. “If you have to carve into the bone, it slows down the recovery, but the hope is by doing this procedure, you’re preventing it from happening again.”
The Yankees said the arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn left hip labrum, bone impingement and the correction of a cyst is similar — but not identical — to what Rodriguez had done on his right hip in 2009. It is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly at Hospital for Special Surgery after first being diagnosed by Dr. Marc Philippon, who did the first procedure.
“If he recovers well, it shouldn’t slow him down,” Gladstone said.
The occurrence of another torn hip labrum and impingement could be the result of an anatomical abnormality. Gladstone and Dr. Steven Geier, director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, agreed it is not related to Rodriguez’s admitted steroid use.
“I don’t know that there’s ever been a link,” Geier said.
Gladstone added: “To our knowledge, nothing points to that.”
Although Rodriguez, who turns 38 in July, is expected to bounce back, he may be affected down the road.
“These surgeries are tough to get over at his age,” Geier said. “You can also worry that the joint is degenerative and with all the pounding he takes, that could lead to early-onset arthritis.”
Geier added the potential arthritis would not prevent Rodriguez from playing, but it certainly would not help as he completes the five years, worth $114 million, remaining on his contract.
Whenever he does return in 2013, the doctors think Rodriguez, owner of 647 career home runs, still could be effective.
“Whenever he finishes rehabbing from this surgery, he should be done with this issue and I’d expect him to get back to wherever he was, at least in terms of the hip,” Geier said.
NASHVILLE — The countdown to the end of Alex Rodriguez’s career has officially begun, no matter what the Yankees tell you about the prospects for a full recovery from hip surgery. The player who was once feared by American League pitchers — the five-tool slugger on a straight path to the game’s all-time home run record — is now on a grimmer timetable: How soon before arthritis kicks in?
The heir to Barry Bonds? Maybe a decade ago. Today, it’s more likely Rodriguez will end up like Bo Jackson, the multisport, impossibly talented star who last played in 1994 and was forced to retire because of a degenerative hip. The Yankees aren’t thinking that way, at least not publicly, if only because they’ve come upon hard times themselves.
Unlike the past, when they could buy their way out of an emergency by writing a big check for a shiny new player, the Bombers are on a tight budget for 2013. For that, they can thank part-owner Hal Steinbrenner, who has no intention of running the franchise in the spontaneous way his father did. There’ll be no shopping spree while A-Rod spends the next six months rehabbing. Instead of, say, free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton, the Yankees will cobble together a short-term platoon at third base that might include free agents Eric Chavez or Jeff Keppinger.
Truth is, the replacement for A-Rod will be … A-Rod.
In the meantime, the Yankees are relying on scaffolding that’s old and creaky, practically Medicare-eligible.
Derek Jeter is recuperating from a broken ankle. Mariano Rivera is trying to rebuild a blown-out knee. Andy Pettitte, who broke his ankle last summer, can only hope he makes it through his final season without another stint on the disabled list. CC Sabathia just had elbow surgery. And now Rodriguez will undergo his second hip operation in four years.
In 2009, A-Rod suffered a torn right labrum, recovering in just two months. He drove in 100 runs in just 124 games and led the Yankees to their first world championship since 2000.
This injury, however, is more serious and not just because A-Rod is that much closer to 40. In addition to a torn labrum in his left hip, doctors found an impingement in the femur, as well as a cyst. Rodriguez will spend the next month strengthening the muscles around his hip, which means the post-op rehab could last until June or July, when he turns 38.
And then what? General manager Brian Cashman did his best to pretend the Yankees will simply soldier on, but he’s smart enough to know the empire faces enormous challenges. Already this off-season the Yankees were looking for a right fielder and a catcher; now they have to replace Rodriguez without a stimulus package from ownership.
No wonder the Blue Jays made their move a few weeks ago, acquiring Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle (not to mention signing Melky Cabrera). The Orioles proved it’s finally possible to re-arrange the furniture in the division — that after a decade of mind-numbing dominance by the Yankees and Red Sox, a coup is more than just a fantasy.
The Yankees are still the East’s wealthiest, most talented franchise and, make no mistake, they’re still the team to beat after 95 victories in 2012. But their policy of winning by attrition — hanging on to players gasping to the finish line of their careers — could prove to be fatal.
One major league executive said the Yankees could be reliving the summer of ’65 — when Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Elston Howard all aged out.
That led to a full-blown collapse in 1966 and the start of a dark age that lasted a full decade.A more likely scenario is a replay of the 2008 season, when a listless Yankees team won 89 games and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
There were red flags everywhere, but the announcement of A-Rod’s injury, first reported by the New York Post, put an exclamation point on the problem. It certainly clouds A-Rod’s legacy, since it’s no stretch to assume his multiple labrum tears were linked to his steroid use in the early 2000s. Cashman himself noted “this is an emerging injury” in the “last decade.”
Rodriguez, once as indestructible as an NFL linebacker, is falling apart: the hips, the torn meniscus in 2011, the broken hand in 2012. Whereas A-Rod played 1,114 games in his age 25-through-31 seasons, an average of 159 per, he’s appeared in only 99 and 122 games in the last two seasons, respectively.
Of course, no one should feel sorry for Rodriguez — he knew the line he was crossing by using steroids, as well as the potential risks. And he’s still got another $114 million coming from the Yankees through 2017, making him baseball’s version of Warren Buffett. But you have to wonder if Rodriguez ever envisioned falling so far, so fast. By September he couldn’t catch up to a 90-mph fastball and was invisible against right-handed pitching.
A-Rod reached a crossroads in the division series against the Orioles, the first time he was pinch-hit for by Joe Girardi. “I just can’t fire [the reflexes] like I want to,” Rodriguez told his manager. Only, he thought it was his right hip, not the left.
That night, after Game 3 of the ALDS, Rodriguez went to the hospital for an MRI — on his unaffected right hip that’d been repaired in 2009. The tests came back clean. Had A-Rod mentioned his left leg, or had doctors decided to check both hips just as a precaution, they would’ve found the tear much sooner.
That’s not to say the Yankees’ fate against Detroit would’ve been any different had A-Rod been taken off the roster before the American League Championship Series. The more relevant point is where the Bombers go from here and what, if anything, Rodriguez can do to reverse a career that’s declining at warp speed.
so what's with all the 'let's get rid of everyone' talk here? do you actually think that dumping guys like Cano, Granderson and Tex will bring back value? or do you want to free up money to sign other players who will fail to play up to the hype? unless we are talking about names like Trout, Harper or Strasberg do you really want Cashamn to make deals for other top prospects who will just end up getting surgery a month after we make the trades? sure we have an old team but just let the deals expire and go from there, we will still compete this year with the team we have, have I ever steered you people wrong?