A-Rod opts to have 'hybrid' surgery
Slugger to miss six to nine weeks after having procedure Monday
TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez has opted for surgery on his torn right hip labrum, selecting a "hybrid" approach that could have him playing for the Yankees in about two months.
Rodriguez will undergo the procedure on Monday morning in Vail, Colo., to be performed by hip specialist Dr. Marc Philippon. Rodriguez is expected to return to Major League game-ready shape in six to nine weeks.
"The goal here is to allow Alex to rehab rapidly in a safe manner," Philippon said. "The approach we're using is much safer than letting Alex play the way he is now."
The Yankees announced the decision on Sunday on a conference call with reporters.
General manager Brian Cashman said that the club had been considering three courses of action for Rodriguez's labrum tear and paralabral cyst, which had prompted the slugger to complain of continued tightness and lack of mobility.
Cashman said that the club could do nothing and see how Rodriguez got through the season, drain the cyst and allow him more flexibility, or select a complete surgical procedure that would cost Rodriguez approximately four months.
When the cyst was drained on Wednesday, Philippon -- a noted hip specialist with the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail -- gathered information from how the slugger reacted and presented a fourth option.
That choice, ultimately, was the one selected: arthroscopic surgery to repair only the labrum tear and, for the moment, shortening Rodriguez's rehab and delaying a more complete procedure to repair the remaining aspect of the injury until after the season.
In medical terms, Rodriguez's labrum tear is a femoroacteabular impingement, which causes friction in the hip joint. Rodriguez has two types of impingement, "pincer" and "cam" -- Philippon will repair only the pincer impingement on Monday.
"Because of all the tests, findings, analysis and function of Alex, I feel it's in his best interest to have his labrum repaired, remove part of his impingement at the same time and, therefore, stabilize his labrum," Philippon said. "[The procedure will] remove a little bit of the impingement, and by doing this, we will contain the cyst. The goal here is to stabilize Alex's labrum, remove a little bit of the impingement and allow him to have more freedom of movement in his hip."
Philippon has performed similar procedures on and treated such sports stars as golfer Greg Norman and figure skater Tara Lipinski. Cashman said that Philippon's expertise gave Rodriguez comfort "that this was not only a legitimate option, but the best one."
"In a situation like Alex's, when we're trying to return him rapidly to his high-level function, it's certainly a very good option," Philippon said. "It's a little more demanding on the patient, but Alex is very athletic and has overall very good muscular strength. I firmly believe that this approach will be successful."
Philippon estimated his confidence that Rodriguez could get through the 2009 season without further incident "in the 85 to 90 percent range."
Philippon estimated that had Rodriguez undergone the complete procedure that he will eventually require, his recovery time would be 12 to 16 weeks.
"The belief is that it would be extensively longer than this current rehab process on this shorter surgery," Cashman said. "That's why Alex has gravitated to this decision."
Cashman said that Rodriguez will remain in Colorado "for the foreseeable future," working out under the supervision of Philippon. Rodriguez could resume swinging a bat as soon as one week after Monday's procedure.
"We will keep Alex with us, certainly for the first few weeks," Philippon said. "We are going to put him on the fast track. We will be very aggressive with his rehab and check on Alex twice a day."
As revealed by the club last week, Rodriguez had been managing tightness and discomfort in his right hip dating back to the 2008 season, though he had never complained of pain.
An MRI taken on Feb. 28 in Tampa, Fla., showed changes to an underlying bone deformity first cataloged by the Yankees last May, when Rodriguez spent time on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps. That prompted Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad to recommend Rodriguez be sent to a hip specialist.
With Rodriguez sidelined until at least mid-April, the Yankees plan to fill their lineup from within. Manager Joe Girardi said that utilityman Cody Ransom is the most likely candidate to fill in at third base for the three-time American League MVP, who is in the second year of a 10-year, $275 million contract.
"Alex is a big part of what we're doing out there, and we need him healthy, and we need him around," Girardi said. "We're going to be without him for a while, but good teams find ways to overcome situations like this."
At the World Baseball Classic in Toronto, Yankees captain Derek Jeter said that Rodriguez's injury could be weathered. The Yankees lost significant players in Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui in 2008, but Rodriguez could be gone for much less time than those two key pieces were.
"Hopefully, Al's not going to be gone for long," Jeter said. "There's more than just one person on a team. If somebody goes down, other guys step up. That's just the way it goes. You don't sit around and feel sorry for yourself and just wait until he comes back. You have to play if he's out there or if he's not."
Cashman emphasized that the Yankees believe the right decision has been made.
"The Yankees are confident that we have sent Alex to the best doctor that can address his needs, both in the short and long term," Cashman said. "We are very confident that Monday's surgery is the best approach to take at this time, and we look forward to it."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Ed Eagle contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.