Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez underwent arthroscopic surgery Monday to repair torn cartilage in his right hip, and doctors said they found nothing that would keep him from returning to the lineup in May.
"The surgery went exactly as we planned," said Dr. Marc
Philippon, who performed the 80-minute procedure at Vail Valley
Surgery Center in Colorado. "No surprises."
Other options considered were a more aggressive surgery that
would have sidelined Rodriguez up to four months or a conservative
approach of rest and treatment.
"There is no doubt in our minds that this was the best
option," Philippon said. "This was the best option for Alex and
General manager Brian Cashman expects the three-time AL MVP back
on the field "sometime in May." Rodriguez will need a more
extensive operation after the season, and Philippon said Rodriguez
will "absolutely" be ready for spring training in 2010.
Rodriguez was expected to be released from the hospital later
Monday and to start his rehabilitation. He was to perform range of
motion drills and ride a stationary bike.
"Alex is doing well," Philippon said. "Over the next few
days, until Friday, we will work on his range of motion. Hopefully
by Friday or Sunday, we will start working on his muscle memory and
adding range of motion that involves the rotation of a batter when
Manager Joe Girardi said the immediate start of Rodriguez's
rehab program was encouraging.
"That's pretty amazing," Girardi said after the Yankees lost
6-2 to Toronto. "That makes me feel like that the six to nine
weeks is doable. The one thing about Alex, we know he's going to
work and work and work. It might be a case that we have to hold him
back a little bit."
Rodriguez suffered from a torn labrum - cartilage that lines the
hip socket to stabilize and cushion the joint. Philippon said he
found a small impingement in the cartilage.
"Any athlete knows injuries are part of the game," Yankees
first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "It's not how you got injured,
it's how you respond. I think Alex is going to be great. It's more
important for him to be healthy during the stretch run and during
our playoff push."
Toronto manager Cito Gaston said the Yankees can overcome the
loss of Rodriguez at the start the regular season.
"They're going to miss him, but I still think they have enough
offense that they'll do fine until he comes back," Gaston. "They
will have to pitch, though. They certainly have the pitchers there
that are capable of pitching well."
New York added CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett during the offseason
to stabilize its starting rotation. The Yankees also hope catcher
Jorge Posada, closer Mariano Rivera and left fielder Hideki Matsui
respond from surgery and help the team get off to a fast start in
the AL East.
"I feel like this team is going to win if we pitch well,
whether Alex is here or not, to tell you the truth," left-hander
Andy Pettitte said. "Everybody's lineup is so good. It's tough to
pitch in this division. I think we're going to win because,
hopefully, we outpitch the other people."
New York finished third last season, ending its streak of 13
consecutive postseason appearances.
"We were banged up last year at the beginning of the season. So
we need to find a way to get it done," Pettitte said. "Hopefully,
we can get everybody going as far as the rotation and we pitch
well. We know Alex is going to drive in a lot of runs, but that
production might not be there. We'll just have to pitch a little
In other news, Rivera threw 30 pitches during his third bullpen
session. Coming back from surgery on the AC joint in his right
shoulder last Oct. 7, Rivera is scheduled to throw batting practice
Wednesday and could make his spring training debut about March 17.
"I'm right on track," Rivera said. "Everything will depend on
how the arm feels. So far it's been feeling good."
Rivera expects to be ready for opening day on April 6.
Matsui, who had left knee surgery last Sept. 22, reported no
problems after playing consecutive games for the first time this
year on Saturday and Sunday.