So Joel Sherman of the Post spoke with Bryan Kelly, the doctor who is set to perform Alex Rodriguez’s hip surgery, and there are two main takeaways from the interview. One is that the injury had nothing to do with A-Rod’s past use of performance-enhancing drugs (in case you were wondering), and the other is that A-Rod’s injury was severe enough that it’s a wonder he was able to play at all during the playoffs. The blog It Is High, It Is Far, It Is …Caught nailed it today: A-Rod basically got a note from his doctor absolving him from his abysmal playoffs.
The first point might take away some ammo from those who want to blame A-Rod’s current problems on his past PED use, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s breaking down physically, which is a considerable problem for a player with five very expensive years remaining on his contract. And while the second point does help explain why he was as bad as he was in October, A-Rod’s haters — the ones who focus on his lack of "clutchness" — aren't likely to change their opinion of him. At most, they’ll shift their criticism to questions about why he was playing in the first place.
We’d encourage you to read the whole interview, if only to get a better sense of what was going on during last year’s circuslike postseason — though it won’t do much to explain what the hell Joe Girardi was doing when he made some of his decisions. (Remember, the nature of A-Rod’s injury wasn’t known until after the season, and even if Girardi recognized the severity of the injury, it doesn’t explain why he’d allow him to play in certain situations but not others, as opposed to sitting him entirely.)
There’s some stuff in there about why the injury wasn’t diagnosed sooner, and a part about how A-Rod’s probably never been able to properly rotate his hips in an ideal manner. Here’s the doctor on what exactly was causing A-Rod so much trouble during the playoffs:
Kelly explained that 25 degrees of internal rotation is needed in the hips to produce an ideal swing and less than 10 percent leaves an athlete vulnerable. Kelly said Rodriguez probably was operating at well under 25 percent even in his best years as the hip impingement methodically did damage to the joint and labrum.
As a unique athlete, A-Rod compensated by using other muscles and having a strong pain tolerance. But by October, Kelly said, A-Rod “had zero degrees of motion through his hip.” That left Rodriguez trying to generate bat speed by altering his mechanics — opening his front left foot and mainly using his arms — and “he was not able to play at the level he needed to, directly as a result of the injury he has. I looked at the pictures, and there is no doubt the injury was what caused the reduction of performance.”
And here, Kelly explains how A-Rod’s “is a mechanical injury, and mechanics are something you were born with.” From the article:
Kelly explained that by age 15 the hip has reached its mature shape and A-Rod’s impingement injury comes from two factors: a hereditary component (having a femoral head that is more egg-shaped than spherical and thus more likely to produce a labrum tear) and a developmental component (the external forces that come from repetitive motion in playing a high-level sport for a long period).
Kelly, by the way, expects that A-Rod will be back in the lineup shortly after the All-Star break.