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A-Rod's surgery raises questions

 
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.

Is Alex Rodriguez finished?

The question sounds over-dramatic, but maybe not.

Rodriguez, 37, is not going to retire, not when he is owed $114 million in the final five years of his contract. But now that he is facing a second hip surgery, it’s not out of the question that doctors eventually might determine that he is physically unable to perform.

At that point, Rodriguez still would be paid the remainder of his contract, but the Yankees would collect insurance – more than 70 percent of his salary, according to a source with knowledge of how such policies work.

Maybe it’s early for such a doomsday scenario. But at this point, what are the odds of Rodriguez completing the final five years of his contract, the odds that he still will be playing at age 42?

Rodriguez will undergo surgery in January to repair a torn labrum, bone impingement and cyst in his left hip, the Yankees announced Monday.

The team’s official release said that he will miss four to six months, a time frame that will sideline him until at least May and possibly July.

Rodriguez, a fanatical worker, surely will attempt to make a strong and rapid recovery; he did just that after undergoing surgery on his right hip in March 2009, and helped lead the Yankees to the World Series.

This surgery, however, will be more extensive than his previous one, requiring a longer recovery time. Rodriguez also is at a stage in his career when he already is in decline.

Carlos Delgado never played again after undergoing two surgeries on the same hip in a span of nine months when he was 37. And remember, Rodriguez’s right hip was not fully corrected in ’09. He originally was supposed to undergo a second surgery at the end of that season.

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“The surgery that will just repair the labrum tear right now would shorten his rehab,” Cashman said then. “Then, following the conclusion of the season, going in and repair the remaining aspects that need to be repaired.”

Rodriguez avoided that surgery by strengthening his hip. It’s possible that he will return with both hips stronger than ever before. But even then, he might not escape further problems.

His gait might change due to his hip surgeries, leading to other injuries. And no one knows the exact toll that his acknowledged use of performance-enhancing drugs has exacted on his body.

Cashman has acknowledged that Rodriguez is unlikely to regain his past glory, the questions surrounding A-Rod’s career are now more fundamental.

How effective will he be? How long will he last?

Is he nearing the end?

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