12/08/12 6:45 PM ET
A-Rod 'relieved' to be on comeback trail
Yankees star plans on returning midseason as good as ever
By David Villavicencio / Special to MLB.com
Doctors determined the Yankees' star needs surgery to repair a tear in his left hip. While most would be disappointed with the news, Rodriguez was relieved because his mystery ailment had been identified and will now be corrected.
"It was a crushing blow when we got to Vail, Colo., and I talked to my doctors," Rodriguez said. "It was obviously a big blow, but there is a very small part of me that is relieved that there is a tangible issue and we can adjust and get back to playing really good baseball."
Rodriguez spoke at length about his injured left hip after he distributed toys to more than 75 Miami children at the Boys & Girls Club. Cardinals outfielder and fellow Miami native Jon Jay was also in attendance as Rodriguez posed for pictures and spent time with the kids.
"I was a beneficiary of all of these great programs, Boys [& Girls] Club being one of them," Rodriguez said. "You want to give back and share when you can."
Rodriguez hopes to be the beneficiary of excellent medical care as he tries to get ready for a return to the diamond at some point during the 2013 season.
"We are preparing for an operation that will happen in mid-January," Rodriguez said. "Then it gets tough, because that is when we need to try to climb the mountain again and do something special again like the last time."
Rodriguez had surgery on his right hip in 2009, but the 14-time All-Star had an excellent season, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 100 runs while helping the Yankees win the World Series.
"We've seen this movie before and hopefully it has the same ending as '09," Rodriguez said. "When I went down, a lot of people counted us out. We had a pretty tough April, but sometime around May the magic started and it just got better and better."
The 37-year-old is not sure of the exact date of his surgery or when he will be able to return to action. But Rodriguez is confident that he will play at some point during the upcoming season.
"I think I am definitely going to play," Rodriguez said. "We've been down this road before. We have a good plan and a good team in place. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Typically, a person needs four to six months to recover from the surgery Rodriguez will undergo. Barring any setbacks, Rodriguez should be ready to rejoin the Yankees around mid-season and he expects to be productive upon his return.
"I think the latest sample and the most legitimate is how I played the first four months before tearing my hip and breaking my hand," Rodriguez said of how he expects to play going forward. "I think my pace was solid and definitely a winning player. After that, especially after my hand, I thought my numbers went south very quickly."
The Yankees are searching for someone to man third base in Rodriguez's absence and former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis is one of several names that have been rumored as a possibility.
"Youk has always been a tough out," Rodriguez said. "He's a tough player, a guy that's a winning player. Whatever the franchise wants to do, I think that will be a good move for us."
Beyond replacing Rodriguez, the Yankees have several other needs to address. With their division rivals all seemingly improved, some have already written off the Yankees as contenders in 2013. While Rodriguez admits the rest of the American League East has improved, he is not ready to concede the division just yet.
"We have All-Stars all over the place, great players and Hall-of-Fame players," Rodriguez said. "I think, obviously, there are needs, but last year at this time you probably said we had [Eric] Chavez and [Raul] Ibanez and [Chris] Stewart, and those guys played very key roles for us during the year and down the stretch. We're the New York Yankees. Don't count us out."
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.