Earlier today, the Yankees put out a press conference about the latest injury to Alex Rodriguez. Shortly after flying coach class into Nashville (no, not because of budget issues), Brian Cashman confronted a room full of reporters eager to ask him how thrilled he is to have Rodriguez for five more years (and maybe some stuff about steroids too, because hey, might as well). Here are some notes from his appearance, which lasted about half an hour:
- Rodriguez didn’t say anything about the hip until after Girardi went to pinch hit for him with Raul Ibanez in Game Three of the ALDS. At that point, A-Rod said something about being bothered by his right hip and (Cashman was paraphrasing) not feeling like he was firing on all cylinders. He didn’t feel pain, but he did feel some discomfort. Rodriguez was examined after the game and got a clean bill of health, but that’s because he had the wrong hip—the problem was with the left one, not the right one (which was operated on in 2009). Cashman says that if the doctors had examined his left hip at that time, they would have found the tear, but they didn’t (and shouldn’t have been expected to, since the patient’s complaint pointed elsewhere). Cashman couldn't or didn't explain how A-Rod could be confused about which hip was hurt.
- Cashman blames A-Rod’s struggles down the stretch and in October on the hip issue. According to Cashman, with the use of not just one but two “likelys,” it’s a “likely scenario that the struggles that we saw in September and October are more likely than not related to this issue.” Cashman went on to say that it “makes sense that this was something that was hindering him, even if he couldn’t put a finger on it.”
- Cashman didn’t disclose the condition earlier because, well, no one asked him about it. When he was asked about DHing or trading A-Rod, he simply said he wasn’t considering either. Yesterday, though, someone asked specifically about the hip, which is why the team chose to announce the issue now.
- Cashman compared the injury to Brett Gardner’s and Mariano Rivera’s, in the sense that the Yankees have faced this sort of challenge before and found a way to surmount it. He’s willing to be aggressive with a short-term fix, if something makes sense. If it doesn’t, he’s willing to be patient. In other words, Cashman didn’t give away his precise gameplan for replacing Rodriguez. Shocking.
- Cashman said that “Alex has a lot of peace of mind.” The third baseman was bothered by his struggles and happy to have an explanation for them, even though the explanation is something that requires surgery.
- The estimated recovery time from this surgery is four-to-six months, at least twice as long as it took Rodriguez to return from the first hip operation. Cashman explained that the bone impingement involved this time around makes the new hip surgery’s recovery time longer.
- Cashman hasn’t considered Eduardo Nunez as a third baseman. He views him as a shortstop, which is very charitable of him.
- Cashman asked if upgrading the left side of the infield is a “must.” Not surprisingly, he declined to say that it was, since he doesn't like losing all of his leverage. However, he did indicate that it’s important, which didn’t come as a tremendous surprise.
- Cashman says there are no long-term restrictions placed on Rodriguez by the surgery. The right hip that was fixed still looks fine, so he expects the left hip to make the same smooth recovery.
- Cashman doesn’t believe that the injury to the previous hip has any connection to the new injury, and he doesn’t know if it will affect the rehab process.
- Rodriguez said he felt better than he ever had in his career right before the playoffs, and he wasn’t getting any special physical treatment. According to Cashman, the Yankees had no inkling that this was an issue before Rodriguez spoke up.
- Cashman says he’s still happy to have A-Rod (independent of the crushing contract, at least). He thinks third base is a difficult position to find a fit for and that A-Rod is still above average offensively at third. He believes the Yankees are still better off with a healthy Rodriguez than a hole to fill, which isn’t the most ringing endorsement, but is probably nicer than the things most writers are writing about A-Rod today.
- Cashman was asked if A-Rod’s injuries had anything to do with his steroid use. His answer: “I have no idea.”
*Update: the wireless at the Winter Meetings wasn't cooperating earlier, but I was belatedly able to upload the full recording of the press conference. Click the link below, sit back, and enjoy, especially if you're one of those people who enjoys seeing the Yankees suffer.*