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Friday, March 6, 2009
A-Rod's ailing hip will be monitored

By Buster Olney

Hip surgery is the worst-case scenario for Alex Rodriguez, but the specialist who examined the Yankees' third baseman earlier this week indicated there is a very good chance that Rodriguez could play the whole season with the labrum tear, sources say.

Yankees co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner said Rodriguez had additional tests on Friday in Colorado.

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

In a Thursday conference call with the Yankees and other parties, Dr. Marc Philippon, the specialist, described for others how the surgery would work. But there also was an indication, during the call, that there is a "75 to 80 percent chance" Rodriguez could get through the 2009 season playing through the discomfort.

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

The parties involved have taken the more conservative route of rest and rehabilitation, and Rodriguez's hip will continue to be monitored to see if the labrum tear worsens.

If that happens, the cartilage in the hip would be exposed, and this could lead to microfracture surgery, as explained on the conference call.

If there are signs that Rodriguez's tear is worsening, surgery would take place before any microfracture surgery becomes necessary.

There had been speculation that Rodriguez might have a hip condition similar to that of former Kansas City Royals outfielder Bo Jackson, but there was no talk of that type of injury on the conference call, sources say. Rather, the injury is being regarded as something that can be fixed, whether it is during the season or after.

The greatest hurdle might be Rodriguez's challenge of playing with the injury, particularly at a time when he's under greater scrutiny in the aftermath of the revelation that he used performance-enhancing drugs in the past.

Rodriguez has been the most durable player in the big leagues since he became a regular more than a decade ago, playing in more games than any player since the start of the 1996 season.

Cashman planned to talk with Philippon later Friday and said he could have additional information regarding test results. He wasn't sure when Rodriguez will rejoin the Yankees.

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

Rodriguez's brother, Joe Dunand, told in a phone interview Thursday morning that Alex Rodriguez would have surgery to remove the cyst and would be out 10 weeks.

In addition, a source close to the situation told that surgery was scheduled for Monday in Colorado. Rodriguez saw Philippon on Wednesday in Vail.

But Thursday afternoon, Cashman said the three-time AL MVP would be treated conservatively in the hope of avoiding an operation. Cashman said that if surgery is needed, Rodriguez would be sidelined for four months.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.