Noted hip specialist Dr. Marc Philippon initially recommended surgery, according to sources, but after consulting with Philippon the Yankees announced they will at least try the more conservative option of rest and rehab. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said in Tampa that if surgery is ultimately needed, Rodriguez would be sidelined for up to four months, an ominous thought for a Yankees team that has no obvious replacement.
"If at some point it's not working and it's a problem, then the other one becomes more of a choice," Cashman said Thursday. "Right now, the route we're going is conservative."
The tear was discovered during an evaluation of Rodriguez's hip by Philippon in Vail, Colo., as first reported by SI.com. Rodriguez is expected to take at least the next couple days to evaluate the situation before determining whether to have the surgery. Rodriguez is remaining in Vail with Philippon, who is considered among the country's most foremost hip authorities.
The Yankees were given three different options regarding the method of treatment, and while the Yankees hope to avoid surgery, sources suggest that surgery remains a very real possibility. Even so, the Yankees are aware of several major league players currently playing with various degrees of tears.
Cashman said if Rodriguez is able to play, the three-time AL MVP might have offseason surgery to repair the labrum tear. Cashman said Rodriguez's preference was to try rest and treatment first. "We're collectively trying to figure out what is best to do," Cashman said. "We don't want to rush into it. We want to digest it."
The Yankees are under the distinct impression that there isn't a serious chance to cause greater harm by trying to play. In A-Rod's case, there is said to be no evidence that there's a real chance the labrum will tear off the bone. But the situation will be continuously monitored if he does try to play through the injury. As a patient, Rodriguez ultimately gets to decide what course of treatment to pursue.
A giant cyst was discovered by Yankees doctors after Rodriguez reported experiencing tightness in the area, and Philippon found that the tear was the cause of the large cyst. The cyst was aspirated on Thursday, and the hope is that will alleviate the tightness he was feeling in the area. By aspirating the cyst, doctors also will have a better chance to view the entire area as the evaluation continues.
According to a person familiar with Rodriguez's medical condition, the cyst on his hip is definitively unrelated to any previous steroid use. The type of cyst Rodriguez has is the result of a torn labrum -- a band that rings the hip joint, securing the head of the femur in the hip. Torn labrums are fairly common in competitive athletes, particularly in sports that require hip rotation that stresses the joint.
Due to this injury, Rodriguez won't play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. The Dominican team's first WBC game will take place on Saturday against the Netherlands.
Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, declined comment on specifics of his client's medical status, but did relate the star third basemen's current demeanor.
"Obviously, he is concerned," said Boras, who was in Glendale for the Dodgers' press conference with newly signed Manny Ramirez. "He was playing really well, but it's obviously been a difficult few days for him."
On Wednesday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Rodriguez had experienced "a little stiffness" in the hip last season.
ESPNdeportes.com first reported that Rodriguez may need surgery. Initial estimates were that Rodriguez could miss six to 10 weeks if surgery were needed -- far less than Cashman's late-day estimate.
Sports Illustrated's Selena Roberts and David Epstein reported last month that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. Upon arrival at Yankees camp, A-Rod admitted that he used performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez said his cousin supplied the substances, which came from the Dominican Republic.