Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Monday, August 19, 2013
Updated: August 20, 10:55 AM ET
A-Rod's lawyers plan malpractice suit

By Andrew Marchand
ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's legal team is preparing to file a medical malpractice suit against the Yankees' team doctor, a source in A-Rod's camp told ESPNNewYork.com.

Rodriguez and his lawyers believe they have evidence that supports their contention that Chris Ahmad, the Yankees' team doctor, misdiagnosed A-Rod's hip injury during last October's playoffs. They have yet to file the suit as they continue to put together their case.

During the 2012 postseason, A-Rod went 3-for-25 with no extra-base hits and 12 strikeouts, which eventually led to his being benched and pinch hit for during the American League Division Series and Championship Series.

On Oct. 10, Yankees manager Joe Girardi pinch hit for Rodriguez for the first time, using Raul Ibanez during Game 3 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles.

After the game, Rodriguez told the team his previously injured right hip felt off. He went for an MRI, and the focus of the exam was the original injury. It turned out that Rodriguez, who previously had surgery on his right hip, needed an operation on his left hip.

"He blames Dr. Ahmad for missing his hip injury? He missed his own hip injury," a Yankees official told ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews last month. According to records provided by A-Rod's team to ESPN New York, the radiologist working with Ahmad on Rodriguez's MRI on Oct. 11 reported, "Stable postoperative appearance of the right hip with no evidence of labral re-tear, stable degenerative change, and only minimal gluteus medius insertional tendinosis. Partial evaluation of left hip revealing superior labral tear with small parabal cyst."

The record is a description of the radiologist report and does not include any interpretations or clinical documentation from Ahmad. The notes were sent to Dr. Marc Philippon, who did the original hip surgery for Rodriguez. Philippon performed another MRI on Oct. 29 that showed Rodriguez needed surgery on the left hip this time.

The Rodriguez team's interpretation of the notes is that Ahmad knew Rodriguez had a tear in the left hip but did not inform A-Rod.

Prior to Philippon's diagnosis, which occurred after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs, Rodriguez continued to play with the injury and was embarrassed by his performance. He went on to have offseason left hip surgery and has just returned this month, hitting .317 with two homers in his first 47 at-bats this season. When the Yankees and Rodriguez quarreled over his Grade 1 strain of his quad in July, Rodriguez informed Yankees team president Randy Levine that he did not trust Ahmad.

Healthy now, Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game suspension for violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. A-Rod's side believes Ahmad's misdiagnosis displays a pattern of the club -- and now with the suspension Major League Baseball -- trying to find a way for insurance or banishment to pick up some, if not all, of the remaining four years on Rodriguez's $275 million contract.

The Yankees will not be caught totally off guard by the Rodriguez team's tactic. On Sunday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he will no longer say anything more than hello to Rodriguez because of the possibility of suits against the team or himself.

"I'm not comfortable talking to Alex about this because we feel we are in a litigious environment," Cashman said.

Cashman also defended the clubs' doctors.

"Our trainers and doctors will continue to provide the best medical care possible," Cashman said. "That is for Alex as well as anybody else regardless of what they say and what they do. They're going to continue to do that for Alex as well as anybody else on the team. Is it an unusual circumstance? Absolutely. Are any of these people happy with these allegations that continue to get thrown? It's odd. It's odd and it's false, but we still have to go through the motions." 

The Yankees released a statement on the potential malpractice suit that read: 

"We relied upon Dr. Christopher Ahmad and the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for medical diagnosis, opinions and treatment. The Yankees neither had any complaints from Alex Rodriguez pertaining to his left hip during the 2012 regular season and the Yankees postseason, nor did the Yankees receive any diagnosis pertaining to his left hip during that same period of time. Given the various allegations that have been made by Alex Rodriguez and his counsel, if you have any medical questions they should be directed to the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Dr. Christopher Ahmad."