Alex Rodriguez has a torn labrum in his right hip, but the New York Yankees think he can avoid surgery.
A cyst in the hip was drained Wednesday, and the third baseman will miss the World Baseball Classic, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Thursday.
The three-time AL MVP will be treated conservatively in the hope of avoiding an operation. Cashman said that if surgery is needed, Rodriguez would be sidelined for four months.
Cashman said the team hopes the cyst was the cause of stiffness that had bothered Rodriguez and caused him to see a specialist, Dr. Marc Philippon, in Vail, Colo.
Earlier on Thursday, ESPNdeportes.com reported that Rodriguez's brother, Joe Dunand, said the slugger was going to have surgery with a projected 10-week recovery time.
"I spoke with Alex and his doctor and Cash today, and we're speaking again this afternoon," Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, said in Phoenix. "Obviously, he is concerned. He was playing really well, but it's obviously been a difficult few days for him."
The injury is the latest setback for baseball's highest-paid and perhaps best player, who last month admitted using banned drugs while playing for Texas from 2001-3. And it leaves a huge hole in the lineup for the Yankees, trying to rebound after missing the playoffs last season following 13 consecutive appearances.
Last year, Rodriguez was sidelined from April 28 to May 20 because of a strained right quadriceps — his fifth career trip to the disabled list.
His 138 games were his fewest since 1999, when he tore the medial meniscus in his left knee during a spring training agility drill on March 30. He played in the first two games of that season with Seattle, then was put on the disabled list April 7 and missed 32 games until he returned May 14.
If Rodriguez is sidelined, New York would have to replace its third baseman and cleanup hitter, behind new first baseman Mark Teixeira. The leading internal candidate to take over at third would be Cody Ransom, a 33-year-old who has 183 at-bats in six major league seasons.
Rodriguez has been looking forward to the April 16 opener at the $1.5 billion new Yankee Stadium. He is easily baseball's highest-paid player with a $32 million salary this season.