When Yankees GM Brian Cashman first announced that Alex Rodriguez was having his second hip surgery since 2009 he sounded pretty sure of himself that they expected A-Rod to come back and come back strong by midseason. Lately though, he has been softening on that stance.
“(Kevin Youkilis) will be penciled in as our everyday third baseman until Alex comes back,” Cashman told Wally Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. “The expectation is Alex will be back but there’s no guarantee of that nature either. He hasn’t even had the surgery yet. It’s a very important surgery and hopefully he will get a thumbs up that everything is going as planned, or as hoped. But I’m not going to guarantee anything about when he’s coming back or how he’ll come back. Well just have to wait and see.”
The problem is that this is Alex’s second hip surgery and the hip area is sensitive. It was never the same after the first surgery and will be off even more after the second. On top of that this is a more invasive surgery with almost twice the recovery period expected compared to the first.
We can look at Carlos Delgado as a cautionary tale. He finished ninth in the MVP voting in 2008 after he played in 159 games. Then he had hip surgery in 2009. A comeback was expected in 2010, but after he had his second surgery he was never able to play again. That’s not to say that A-Rod will never play again, but this is a different scenario to 2009 even if it is a similar surgery. Expectations that he can come back and contribute at a high level, even as a DH, need to be tempered.
This is why once word got out that A-Rod had his second surgery the Yankees were so aggressive in looking for a replacement third basemen. It’s also why after they missed out on their top choice of a platoon between Eric Chavez and Jeff Keppinger they made a desperate $12 million bid for Youkilis because there is a chance that A-Rod might not be back at all.