Miami – Alex Rodriguez only started feeling better when he found out that there was something wring with him.
The New York Yankees' third baseman said Saturday that not only are plans set for him to have surgery on his left hip in mid-January, but that he's also eager to embrace the challenge of coming back from both the operation and an unbelievably abysmal finish to last season. It's expected that Rodriguez, who will be making his sixth trip to the disabled list in six seasons, could be sidelined until the All-Star break.
"I'm not concerned," Rodriguez told The Associated Press. "I'm actually, in many ways, relieved that there's something tangible that we can go fix."
I am fully committed to a very hard road back.
Rodriguez had surgery on his right hip in 2009, missed about the first month of the season and still finished with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs — plus helped the Yankees win the World Series. This surgery is more complex, since it'll repair not only a torn labrum but also a bone impingement and a cyst. The surgery is next month because it was determined he needed some time to strengthen the hip first.
"I am fully committed to a very hard road back," Rodriguez said. "We've done it before in '09 and it was a great result, both on a personal level and on a team level, more importantly. I take it as a great challenge and I'm excited for the challenge."
A 14-time All-Star and baseball's priciest player at $275 million, Rodriguez plans to further discuss the hip situation at a news conference later Saturday afternoon.
He batted .120 (3 for 25) with no RBIs in last season's playoffs, including 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers. He originally thought he was having issues with the right hip again — he wasn't — and it wasn't until November that the issues within the left hip were detected.
Rodriguez finished this past regular season batting .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs. He now has 647 career homers, fifth-most in baseball history and 13 shy of the No. 4 player on that list, Willie Mays.
Rodriguez was in Miami, the city he calls home, on Saturday to host a pair of events for children — his basketball tournament which he started a decade ago, and a toy giveaway at a Boys & Girls Club where he was a member until getting drafted by the Seattle Mariners.
He addressed about 150 players at a breakfast honoring the eight basketball teams in the morning, telling them stories about his upbringing and earliest days as a student and athlete that many in the room did not likely know.
"You're probably sitting there saying, 'Now, how can you relate with us? You play for the Yankees. You make all this money. You date so-and-so,'" Rodriguez told the basketball players. "What you guys don't know is we're all alike. I was sitting in that chair just 15, 18 years ago. My mom had two jobs. I didn't know if I would ever have a steak dinner. That didn't exist in my house."
He also met privately with some of the athletes afterward, advising them about upcoming decisions, such as what to look for in a college. Rodriguez also posed for several photos with the teams and their coaches.
"I can't say enough good things about him," said Brother Kevin Handibode, the president of Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, where Rodriguez attended as a freshman. "I know about all the good work he does, and you don't hear about it. You just don't hear about the good that Alex has done in a very, very quiet way."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.