Alex Rodriguez will soon have matching hips, each with its own labrum surgery. Old players are like this: They break down and in severe ways. The question is, what will the austerity-mode Yankees do to replace him while he's out through June at earliest? The short-term answer appears to be "maybe nothing," as general manger Brian Cashman insists that his goal remains to improve the club overall, not necessarily at third base.
Rodriguez had had no complaints about either hip until Joe Girardi pinch-hit for him during the post-season, at which point he pulled Girardi aside and told the manager his right hip was bothering him. At that point the hip was examined and checked out fine. It was only during a more recent examination that the left hip was revealed to be the culprit.
"Alex is at peace with it, having an explanation of why" he went through such difficult struggles in September and October. "It's a likely scenario that hte struggles we saw in September and October were likely symptomatic of this issue... We were watching him and he was all arms and no legs," Cashman said.
Rodriguez is now doing a 4-6 week pre-surgical exercise program. The recovery from the surgery itself will be 4-6 months.
Cashman has not settled on a replacement, and specifically ruled out utilityman Eduardo Nunez. "If something makes sense we'll be aggressive with it," he said of an outside acquisition, but otherwise reiterated that his focus remained on improving the club as a whole and was prepared to wait for a solution to present itself for the period of time during which A-Rod is out. "We will try to accomplish upgrades where practical," he said. "We will cushion the blow." A question as to whether the Yankees' restricted-money mode would impact the search for replacements appeared to give him pause. "Everything is going to count," he said in terms of costs, but said that financial concerns had not yet affected the search.
Cashman reiterated that he expected Rodriguez back at full strength, that the right-hip surgery was very successful, and he expected the left one to be equally so despite it being more complicated due to a bone impingement. "His work ethic is legendary." Despite offense that has declined on a yearly basis, Rodriguez "is still providing, although of a different caliber, above-average production at that [third base] ... Those three months will be Alex Rodriguez-less. We will not be better for it."
"Bottom line, we have to improve the club as a whole," Cashman repeated. Rodriguez's injury is serious, the timing is serious, but the focus has not necessarily changed.