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Lingering questions in the wake of Rodriguez’s injury

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Obviously there are many, many lingering questions in the wake of the Alex Rodriguez surgery announcement. Many of those questions won’t be answered any time soon, but here’s what we know at the moment.

Who’s going to play third base on Opening Day?

The short answer is, no one knows. Brian Cashman quickly shot down the idea of moving Derek Jeter to third base, and he said he’d rather not give Eduardo Nunez another shot at the position. The minor league system has David Adams, Corban Joseph and Ronnier Mustelier in the upper levels, but would the Yankees actual enter a season with one of them at the top of the big league pecking order?

“I can’t tell you what our Opening Day situation is going to be there yet,” Cashman said. “But we have some more time to deal with that. It’s not an easy position to fill. We’re going to get Alex back at some point, but other teams don’t have a third baseman. The choices aren’t pretty. … I’d like to always upgrade on what I have as alternatives, but that’s hard to do. We had a really good situation there with Chavy, and obviously we’ll stay in touch with him. Right now, with what I have, the job is to look for better. There’s no doubt about that. We’re also prepared to go with what we have if that’s what’s mandated by how the circumstances play out. If people want to try to take advantage of the circumstance and have us pay twice the price, then we’re not going to do anything there. We’ll just deal with what we’ve got and wait it out.”

Cashman stressed that, although we’re just finding out about this now, the Yankees have known this was a possibility since early to mid November. Their offseason approach has not been drastically changed by today’s news. Cashman said this situation was in the early stages as far back as the General Manager Meetings.

Why was Rodriguez complaining about his right hip?

In the postseason, when Rodriguez finally told the Yankees that he didn’t feel quite right, he said the problem was on his right side. Cashman believes that was simply because Rodriguez couldn’t exactly pinpoint the source of the problem, he just knew his lower half didn’t feel quite right. He didn’t complain about the hip before Game 3 of the division series, and he didn’t complain about it afterward either. The true problem was only discovered because of a thorough examination that was part of Rodriguez’s postseason routine.

“I don’t think physically – although it was manifesting probably in his performance – it wasn’t manifesting in a personal self-diagnosis kind of way,” Cashman said. “I don’t think it was hurting, but he just didn’t feel right.”

Cashman said he has no problem with the doctors checking only the right hip during the postseason. He said there was no indication from Rodriguez that the left hip needed to be examined as well.

“Clearly Alex was dealing with an issue that, although he might be asymptomatic, but the lower half and the way the mechanisms work, he wasn’t firing on all cylinders,” Cashman said. “There (were) times that we thought watching him that he was all arms and no legs, but again, there was no complaints, no pain. … If they accidentally decided to light any other aspect of his body up, I guess they could have done that, but it’s not your typical course of action in the medical world.”

Is there reason to believe Rodriguez can come back as an everyday third baseman?

“I don’t think there’s restrictions that have been placed by the operating physicians on these issues,” Cashman said. “It’s just, ‘Hey, he’s got a problem that needs to be fixed, (and) it can be fixed. The proof in the pudding is the right hip looks terrific still, when that was fixed from the surgery. Now the left hip needs to be fixed. Dr.Kelly has got a great reputation, and so I have full confidence that between the operating physician and the expertise that comes with that and the patient whose work ethic is legendary, that this will all work out over time.”

Cashman said he does not believe the right hip injury played any role in creating the left hip injury.

“Does that mean the right hip could be a problem down the road again, does that mean the left hip could rear its ugly head again? Sure, I’m sure it does,” Cashman said. “But the right hip looks good, and I suspect after the surgery the left hip will look good as well.”

Couldn’t this surgery have been done earlier to expedite his return?

Game 3 of the division series was on October 10. That’s the night Rodriguez first complained about some sort of discomfort. That was nearly two months ago, and it seems that the surgery isn’t going to happen for another month from now.

“Could the surgery have been done earlier?” Cashman said. “Yeah, if we didn’t have to go through second opinions and everything else like that, yeah. But we obviously wanted to take it step by step, and it was important to us to get a second opinion and get an evaluation, comparative (analysis) and have conference calls with all the doctors involved and talk through all the options to make certain that we’re going to be doing the right thing here.”

For whatever it’s worth, Cashman said Dr. Kelly will perform the surgery — not Dr. Philippon — largely because the Yankees want the surgery and much of the rehab to take place in New York. Having Rodriguez travel back and forth to Colorado wasn’t the most convenient thing in 2009, and the Yankees like this option better.

Associated Press photo