Alex Rodriguez, though no fault of his own (for once), continues to suck up all the dramatic air in the New York sports scene. The revelation late yesterday that his hip cyst was actually hiding a torn labrum put his season, and perhaps his whole career, in jeopardy. What does this news mean for A-Rod and the Yankees? Read on for our Alex Rodriguez Hip Injury FAQ.
What exactly is the injury?
It’s a torn labrum, which, as Dr. Robert Buly told the Journal News’ Pete Abraham yesterday, is like a rubber gasket around the hip socket. This always requires surgery. “It’s going to get progressively worse,” Dr. Buly told Abraham, “and for the patient, it’s pretty miserable.”
Why isn’t A-Rod getting surgery now?
Because the season is about to start. The injury is serious enough to require surgery on the bone as well as the soft tissue, and he’d be out for four months, at least. Given what A-Rod has recently been through off the field and the fact that the Yankees are paying him $32 million this year, that is unacceptable. But there’s no guarantee that rehab’s going to work, which means the Yankees could get a pained, ineffective A-Rod until he finally gives in and has the surgery.
Is this due to steroids?
No, this is a common baseball injury. Sorry.
Why did they only just notice this?
The cyst recently became more painful, and the labrum tear was discovered once they drained the cyst. Also, A-Rod has been rather preoccupied.
How must A-Rod feel right now?
Terrible. It’s difficult to fathom all that he's been through in the last month (it was only February 7 that his past steroid use came out), and this is surely the worst cut of them all. During his rambling press conference last month, he lit up only once, when talking about getting back on the field. Alex Rodriguez has been playing baseball every day since he was 17. To have this injury come up now has to be torture.
What will the Yankees do?
It depends on whether A-Rod can be effective with rehab and how long he's out. (He’s officially listed as being off “indefinitely.”) The short-term fix is putting in Cody Ransom, a middle infielder who’s good with the glove but weak with the stick. If A-Rod is out for half the season or more, the Yankees will surely make a trade. The Mariners might be willing to trade impending free agent Adrian Beltre, and the Blue Jays might want to get Scott Rolen off their payroll, through they’d probably blanch at trading to an interdivision rival.
It’s really starting to look like A-Rod wasn’t worth it, isn’t it?
Yep. Rodriguez was looking like an albatross before his injury. For all of the off-field madness, he at least remained one of the best players in baseball. Now he'll be gimpy, and may even miss most of the season. And he is signed until 2017!
Imagine this scenario: A-Rod is forced to miss most of the season, and the Yankees trade for, say, Rolen, who stays healthy and mans third base well enough to guide the team to the playoffs. There, he gets a big, clutch playoff hit. Then A-Rod returns, next season, ready to play, hated more than ever. The Yankees are going to have to play A-Rod for the next eight years, and they’re going to pay him more than $20 million a year to do it. We will find out how indispensable he really is.
The Yankees could have walked A-Rod after the infamous Scott Boras phone call announcing his free agency during the 2007 World Series. He could have been someone else’s problem. Now, he’s theirs, and ours.