TAMPA, Fla. -- The man sitting in front of
Even if A-Rod didn't possess one of the most recognizable visages in the world today, the easiest way to tell that the temporary resident flipping through a book in front of the cubicle by the side door was not the much-maligned slugger was this: There was no one else around him. For when A-Rod is back in town, the whole world will know it. His every move will be chronicled, his every swing discussed, his every word dissected.
Rodriguez's return will also mean that the Yankees will be ready to seriously challenge the Red Sox and Rays for AL East supremacy. If the silver lining to A-Rod's absence is the calm that it has brought to Yankee land, it is the dark cloud of his hip injury that threatens to overshadow the Yankees' efforts to return to the postseason. For now, Rodriguez remains in Colorado, rehabbing his hip after surgery and his image after a cutting experience of a different kind this spring.
Rodriguez is far from the only big-name player to be sidelined in recent weeks, but in typical A-Rod fashion his ailment is the one dominating the headlines. Among the other injuries afflicting major stars this spring --