I just spoke to an expert, Dr. Robert Buly of the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. He is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hips.
Only last week, Dr. Buly presented back-to-back papers on treating this very injury with Dr. Marc Philippon, the surgeon treating Alex Rodriguez.
According to Dr. Buly, A-Rod likely has an impingement in his hip socket, a common injury for athletes. It comes from the femoral bone hitting the rim of the socket. The labrum, he said, is like a rubber gasket around the socket. A torn labrum is a symptom of the impingement.
A cyst such as the one A-Rod is typical in these cases. “That’s an indication something has gone bad with the hip,” Dr. Buly said.
Dr. Buly said it is “not unreasonable” to try rest and rehab. “But at some point you have to bite the bullet and have the surgery. It’s going to get progressively worse and for the patient, it’s pretty miserable,” he said.
A-Rod’s ability to play depends on the size of the tear and how quickly it gets larger. At some point, surgery will be needed. If it is only soft tissue, the recovery time is six to eight weeks. If bone must be repaired, it would take three to four months.
Brian Cashman indicated today that surgery would knock A-Rod out for four months, so it is likely he has some sort of bone deformity. This comes from wear and tear or some sort of anatomical abnormality.
Dr. Buly, who is a Yankees fan, said A-Rod would soon have trouble pivoting or flexing. Running, at least at first, will not be a problem.
Only time will tell how the Yankees handle this. But keep this in mind: Cashman said all last season that Jorge Posada’s torn labrum could be treated with rest and rehab. Then on July 30, as Posada underwent surgery, they made a surprise trade for Pudge Rodriguez.
I would expect the same in this case. What is the point of babying A-Rod through the season only to see him break down in September and October? Make a trade now, get the surgery and perhaps he returns by the All-Star break.
Scott Rolen ($22 million over two years) and Bill Hall ($24.45 over three years) have a lot of money left on their deals. That would be a lot to spend on a half-season patch. But maybe there is a 3B out there to be had. Or perhaps Milwaukee would give some money back to be free of Hall’s deal. In this economy, trade parameters are changing.
You want some other names? Off the top of my head how about Melvin Mora, Chone Figgins, Mark Teahen, Garrett Atkins, Chad Tracy. Maybe Hank Blalock. Detroit could part with Brandon Inge.
Mark Grudzielanek is a free agent. That would be the cheap out.
Point is, there are a lot of options out there.