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03/03/09 11:30 PM ET

Hip injury may shelve A-Rod

Slugger has been experiencing tightness and stiffness

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez's availability for the World Baseball Classic is in doubt, as the third baseman has a hip injury that could prevent him from playing for the Dominican Republic.

The Yankees announced on Tuesday that Rodriguez will travel to Vail, Colo., where he is to be examined and evaluated by Dr. Marc Philippon, a hip specialist at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic.

"We felt it was in everyone's best interest -- for the team and the player -- to send Alex to Dr. Philippon, who is regarded as the leading expert in his field," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Alex has proven his durability throughout his career, and we will take every precaution and step necessary to ensure his health as we near the start of the 2009 regular season and beyond."

As first revealed on Tuesday in a statement released by the team, Rodriguez has been experiencing tightness and stiffness in his right hip.

He was examined by a team physician on Saturday in Tampa, and a MRI showed the formation of a cyst. Dr. Chris Ahmad determined that a follow-up with a hip specialist should be scheduled.

According to a press release, the Yankees contacted Dr. Philippon on Saturday to schedule an appointment, but Rodriguez could not be accommodated until later in the week. Because there was no functional pain, the team said that Rodriguez was cleared to continue physical activities until traveling to Colorado.

It is unclear whether the Yankees will permit Rodriguez to take part in the Classic. The club declined further comment on the situation pending the appointment with Dr. Philippon and the appropriate exchange of information between the doctor, the team and Rodriguez.

The Classic starts on Saturday for the Dominican Republic team in Puerto Rico, and Rodriguez has spoken often about playing in the tournament. If he is not permitted to play, it is likely that he would return to camp with the Yankees.

After representing the U.S. in the 2006 Classic, Rodriguez switched allegiances for this year's event. He said this week that his decision had been made because his mother's dream was that he would play for the Dominican Republic.

Rodriguez played on Sunday for the Yankees against the Reds in Sarasota, Fla., going 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs before meeting with Major League Baseball officials that evening to discuss his past use of performance-enhancing drugs.

2009 Rosters

He joined the Dominican Republic team on Monday in Jupiter, Fla., and played in an exhibition on Tuesday against the Marlins, stroking a double in three at-bats with a run scored before leaving the contest in the fifth inning.

It has been a tumultuous spring for the 33-year-old Rodriguez, a three-time American League MVP who is in the second year of a 10-year, $275 million contract with New York.

A Sports Illustrated report revealed that Rodriguez was one of 104 players to test positive for steroids in MLB's 2003 survey program, having tested for Primobolan and testosterone.

The superstar admitted the steroid use in a television interview, stating that he had used banned substances during all three of his seasons with the Rangers, from 2001 through 2003.

He reported to camp amid the ensuing controversy, holding a press conference on Feb. 17 that was attended by nearly 200 media members, as well as many of his teammates and the club's coaching staff.

In that setting, Rodriguez said that a cousin -- later identified as Yuri Sucart -- repeatedly injected him with a banned substance known as "boli," brought to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic.

Rodriguez claimed that he was "young and stupid" during that time period and that he did not know he was taking performance-enhancing drugs. But he also said, "I knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs."

It was later reported that Rodriguez had spent the 2007 season with Dominican trainer Angel Presinal, who has been banned from MLB clubhouses due to alleged connections to performance-enhancing drugs.

As a follow-up to his comments and news reports, Rodriguez was sought by MLB officials for an interview that took place on Sunday. After that session in Tampa, MLB released a statement saying that Rodriguez had been cooperative during the two-hour meeting.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.