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Surgery before opener still an option for A-Rod

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[March 07, 2009]  TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The New York Yankees haven't made a final decision about how to treat Alex Rodriguez's hip injury.

RestaurantYankees general manager Brian Cashman took part in a two-hour conference call Friday night that included doctors, team officials, Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras.

"We're not there yet to make a decision," Cashman said. "We're making sure everybody understands the benefits and risks. It's a pretty enormous task."

Cashman said he's pretty confident that surgery will eventually be needed. It could come after the season if Rodriguez plays through the injury this year.

"The question is when," the GM said.

Cashman said no surgery is currently scheduled.


"Ultimately it comes down to Alex. What he feels is best - get the information, talk about it as an organization," manager Joe Girardi said. "Talk about it with Alex, and ultimately he has to make the decision. It's a tough decision no matter what."

Rodriguez did some light swinging and fielded grounders in Colorado where he is being examined, and afterward said he felt better.

"I have had a number of agents and players reach out to me personally that are educating me on their experiences," Cashman said. "We're getting a lot of information that's being helpful to us in this process. We're absorbing all the information because Alex is a huge asset. Very important to this franchise."

The slugger had additional tests on his injured right hip Friday, according to team co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner. The tests were designed to determine strength and flexibility now that a cyst in the hip has been drained.

A day earlier, Cashman said Rodriguez will attempt to play with a torn labrum and avoid surgery and a four-month rehabilitation period. The cyst was drained Wednesday.

"Everybody is concerned, of course," Steinbrenner said after meeting with Cashman and Girardi for about 15 minutes before Friday night's game against Detroit. "No decisions being made. Just being cautious. We're going to take it slow."

Cashman said Rodriguez would stay in Colorado for more tests.

The diagnosis by Dr. Marc Philippon, in Vail, Colo., was yet another jolt to Rodriguez during a tumultuous one-month span in which the three-time AL MVP admitted using steroids from 2001-03 with Texas.

Girardi spoke with Rodriguez on Thursday night.

"He felt a little bit of relief from that cyst being gone," Girardi said. "He sounded OK. I think he's concerned, too, because it is a big decision. He's worried about the season, how it affects us. I'm sure he has a million thoughts. He wants to be a part of something special this year. There is the risk-reward factor here."

Rodriguez is in the second season of a record $275 million, 10-year contract, which will likely play a role in the final decision.

"I definitely think so," Girardi said. "We expect Alex to be productive for a long time. If he was retiring after the year, it's a no-brainer. I do think you have to take that into account."

Cody Ransom is the top internal candidate to replace Rodriguez at third base if the 12-time All-Star is sidelined when the regular season starts.

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"I'd love to have Alex back here tomorrow," Girardi said. "We obviously miss him. Miss having his personality here and missing have him in the lineup. Alex is not a guy you can replace. It will probably take some time for him to sort things out."

Tigers designated hitter Gary Sheffield, who has battled injuries throughout his long career, thinks Rodriguez should have surgery if it's possible the injury could get worse and become a career-threatening situation.

"Nobody wants to see Alex out of the game," Sheffield said. "You don't want something like that. Based on my past history, trying to play through things, I think it would be wise for him to do it now."

A-Rod will skip playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

"We just want to get our hands wrapped around what is going on," Cashman said.

Don Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, talked with Yankees players as part of his spring training camp tour.

Fehr would not speak for Rodriguez when it came to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"Alex can speak for himself," Fehr said. "I don't. Obviously, whenever you have stories like this that come out, it isn't good. On the other hand, I hope that people would recognize the following - and actually think most people do and most fans do - that what's come out in one sense is very old news. It occurred six, seven, eight years ago. It was prior to the time of the testing program. There are no suggestions or any meaningful reasons to believe the testing we have in place now has not remarkably reduced the unlawful drugs."


Fehr also said the union would consider a test for human growth hormone.

"If someone comes out with a valid test which works, we'll take a look at it," he said.

Fehr said it is to soon to tell how much baseball will be affected by the economic downturn.

"Traditionally, baseball has been resistant to recessions," he said. "I think anybody who tries to make predictions in the climate the country has been living through probably ought to think twice about whether he wants to make a prediction. I think we'll just wait and see."

Fehr expects this year's World Baseball Classic to be a success, and said it's likely the event will be held again in 2013. He said MLB and the union will continue to explore playing games overseas.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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