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Why I Think ARod Might Return in Mid-April

I'm not one for conspiracy theories generally, but does anyone else think it's strange that in the midst of his steroid scandal this spring which was threatening to overwhelm the team's preparations for the season that ARod suddenly discovers a hip cyst which necessitates his removal from camp and immediately causes the scandal to die down?

One day he was hitting home runs in Cactus League games, and the next a mysterious ailment was found:

Here's the string up updates around that time:

2/26/2009
Rodriguez homered and walked twice in his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday. The blast came against Jays prospect Ricky Romero, while Rodriguez actually received a standing ovation for his efforts from some of the Yankees fans in attendance. Rodriguez admitted that the pressure on Wednesday wasn't much of a test in comparison to the more hostile environments he'll be in once the regular season begins.

3/1/2009
Rodriguez was replaced by a pinch runner in the fifth inning of Sunday's spring training game, potentially to attend a meeting with MLB officials to discuss his admitted steroid use, the Associated Press reports. League officials want to speak to A-Rod about his cousin who he said injected with a banned substance known as "boli." He still plans to join the Dominican Republic team for World Baseball Classic preparations on Monday morning.

3/3/2009
Rodriguez will fly to Colorado to visit a specialist regarding the cyst that was recently discovered in his hip, the Associated Press reports. As a result, his status for the World Baseball Classic is now up in the air. This is the first we've heard of any sort of hip issue for Rodriguez, so it's unclear if it's anything that might put his Opening Day status in doubt or sideline him for any portion of the regular season.

3/5/2009
Rodriguez will reportedly undergo hip surgery and is expected to be out until May, ESPN reports. Let's just say this hasn't been A-Rod's best year so far and leave it at that. That should take him from the top of the 3B cheat sheets - and many overall hitters lists - down several spots. The initial estimate is a 10-week absence.

The injury effectively removed ARod from the spotlight, cast him in a more sympathetic light (after all, it's poor taste to harass the injured guy while he's trying to rehab) and restored order to the Yankees camp by eliminating the media circus. In other words, it couldn't have come at a better time.

The other thing is that no one knows what to look for as ARod recovers from a hip cyst. If he had sprained his ankle, Stephania Bell or Jim Russo might be able to tell if he was faking it - (why does he limp only when running the bases, but not while playing the field, e.g.). But a hip cyst - no one even knows what that is.

I'm not alleging that the injury was fabricated, or that he didn't have surgery. Only that the severity of the condition might have been exaggerated, the operation might have been extremely routine and non-invasive - just a quick scope, and ARod might only need a few weeks of rehab.

The Yankees can then spin it as ARod being so committed to the team that he worked like a madman to get back well before the timetable - even against the advice of his "doctors".

It makes perfect sense - lose ARod for two weeks in order to get the press off his back and out of the way, and start to rebuild his image while taking care of a minor medical problem that probably could have waited until after the season.

I'm not saying this is definitely the case - but I can't be the only one who wondered about the timing of this mysterious injury with no known cause.

Comments

By: Erik Siegrist
On: 3/29/2009 4:26:00 PM
Roster-wise the team has certainly acted as though they were unconcerned about the length of time he might miss. The Yankees throw all that money around in the offseason, but then cheap out on the likes of Cody Ransom as a fill-in when they could spend a mere few more million to pick up Adrian Beltre or the like as a better temp?

Hmmm. And hmmm again.
 
By: Justin Phan
On: 3/29/2009 6:48:00 PM
I dig it.
 
By: iceguy
On: 3/29/2009 7:54:00 PM
Erik's point is good. This is a team that traded for Nick Swisher THEN signed a more expensive 1B in the same offseason. Are we really to believe that when they discovered that their 3B would miss a month, maybe more, the management chose to do nothing? That they thought, "Eh, no big deal."

Watch the Yanks go 7-8 in the first 18 days, at which point ARod comes back "early", and mashes in what's left of April (like he always does in April). Yanks leave April with a 13-10 record, and ARod is the hero. Not a bad script.

Aren't you guys in Cali, Chris? You should pitch that before Hal Steinbrenner beats you to it.
 
By: wiseguyalways
On: 3/29/2009 8:06:00 PM
I have had the same thoughts since this injury was first reported.

To begin with, they couldn't even get the nature of the injury correct when this was all first reported. If you remember, at first his cousin said he would need surgery for a cyst on his hip. Then the Yankees came out and said that the surgery was for a partially torn labrum in his hip, and gave a longer recovery time. Not only that, but they said that he is just getting a temporary surgery that will allow him to play sooner, but will eventually need another surgery to completely fix it.

If you think about it this is a win-win situation for both Arod AND the Yankees. Not only does it take the spotlight off of him, but what if they are also looking to cover up steroid use that may have been as recent as last year? What if they are worried that he may not be capable of hitting at the same level because of the pressure, and possible stop of steroid usage?

Now when he returns from surgery, things can either go two ways. He comes back and hits as well as ever and he looks like a hero for playing through a little pain and coming back early, OR he doesn't hit well and they say it's not his fault and that he tried his best to play through the injury but it's bothering too much and they have to shut him down.

Either way, him and the Yankees look good, or at least as good as they can in this situation.

I could see this theory being an option, and I'm a Yankees fan.
 
By: StephaniaB
On: 3/29/2009 8:25:00 PM
Chris, Chris, Chris...
You ARE turning into a conspiracy theorist...and normally, when it comes to the Yankees, I might be inclined to agree. But in this case I don't.
We do know what a hip cyst is - it often, as in this case, is a direct result of a labral tear (same thing happens commonly in the shoulder - that's how they learned to look for it in the hip). The tear results in irritation of the joint which produces synovial fluid that collects as a cyst. So the cyst can become sypmtomatic, and you can drain it (which they did) and see how an athlete can function. But you have to look at why the cyst developed. If, as in A-Rod's case, there is a labral tear, then that has to be addressed. So you fix the labrum. But then you have to look at why the labrum tore. There is a condition (FAI - which I won't go into here - but I put a link to my full article that explains it below), but it's essentially bony anatomy that can lead to damage within the joint when there is repetitive strain - like power hitting, or throwing with some pitchers. The bone work takes much longer to heal from - so they staged the surgery; labral repair first so he can participate to some degree this season, then bone work later. Some may wonder why not do the whole thing at once - certainly something that had to have been discussed. But for whatever reasons, and maybe some of it was A-Rod wanting to get back onto the field sooner precisely because of all of the off-field drama.
Either way, the official timetable stands at mid-April to early May, but I stand by my position that A-Rod may be in the line-up but I do not expect him to return to form until much later. Wiseguy has a point - A-Rod can look like a hero if he surprises us all, or he can struggle and ultimately get shut down early, and there will always be the rationale that his hip never really allowed him to be 100%.
Thanks for the mention btw Chris - love to come visit my friends here at Rotowire :)
Stephania's ESPN column about ARod

 
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/29/2009 9:03:00 PM
I stand corrected - I guess you *do* know what to look for in this case, too. But is it possible that repeatedly draining the cyst might have been enough, but they went ahead and repaired a *minor* labral tear in part to get ARod out of the spotlight, and the media circus out of camp? Is it common for a cyst to become symptomatic out of nowhere, especially after the offseason when he seemed fine all of last year? Wouldn't a more serious injury be likely to strike after the wear and tear of the season - say in August? In any event, love having you swing by and drop your wisdom on the blog - even if it casts doubt on my *inspired* theory.
 
By: tumanic
On: 3/30/2009 8:35:00 AM
Woah....Dr. Bell is back in the house and delivering a beat down to Liss...(boom goes they dynamite!) I think she remembers you picking on her 2 years ago...LOL Put me down on team Steph's side....you all want to dig your own graves this year...have at er....Arod coming back in a few weeks and being the Arod of old the rest of the year is one hell of a fairy tale....keep praying....
 
By: Erik Siegrist
On: 3/30/2009 9:13:00 AM
Dr. Steph is such a buzzkill.
 
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/30/2009 9:23:00 AM
Whoa - let's not exaggerate the extent of the "beat down" - I copped to being wrong about her not knowing what the cyst was - she clearly demonstrated otherwise. But that doesn't mean ARod isn't healthier than what's been reported, and the circumstances are still suspicious.
 

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