The biggest investment in baseball could be taking a nosedive.
The New York Yankees are facing what could be a $13 million question as they wrestle whether to have their star third baseman Alex Rodriguez — the highest paid player in the game — undergo hip surgery to repair a torn labrum, or opt for rest and rehab in the hope that it will get him back on the field.
Either way, A-Rod, who stands to earn $32 million this season –- he signed a $275 million, 10-year contract with the Yankees in December 2007 –- could be sidelined for at least 10 weeks, and at $200,000 a game, the loss of the troubled slugger could be costly for the Yanks in more ways than one.
So, the big question is: Can Rodriguez push through the pain to salvage his season?
"Most of the time, a patient with this kind of injury, can be fine with aggressive physical therapy," Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and hip arthroscopy told FOXNews.com.
And that is exactly what the Yankees front office is hoping for.
"There's two courses of action concerning what he has," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Thursday. "There is a way to treat it conservatively, which would imply rest, exercise and treatment. Or you can treat it aggressively, which is by surgery. At this point and time, we are going to go the conservative route."
Wright, who has not treated Rodriguez, said this is the normal course of treatment for any patient with this kind of injury, which is surprisingly common and affects about 58 percent of the population.
"Generally the first line of treatment for a wear-and-tear type injury is physical therapy to strengthen the pelvis, to maintain hip range of motion and to prevent weakness," Wright said. "But when conservative measures like that don’t provide relief — then we often do surgery."
A tear in the labrum, which is the cartilage that provides stability and cushioning for your hip joint, can be caused by several factors including a twisting injury or the actual shape of an athlete’s bones.
"The hip is like a ball-and-socket joint," Wright said. "The labrum lines the rim of the cup joint and seals the two hard surfaces together. The fact is labrums don’t heal on their own. Alex played through last season with discomfort and he could do it again this season. It’s a matter of how much pain he’s in."
If it comes down to Rodriguez being in too much pain, Wright said he could undergo a procedure called hip arthroscopy.
It’s performed by only a few doctors in the country including Wright and Dr. Marc Philippon of Vail, Colo., who has been treating Rodriguez for this injury.
For the surgery, the doctor enters the inside of the hip using tiny cameras and instruments inside the hip joint without making major incisions through the skin, Wright said.
"The beauty of this is you don’t have to cut muscles to get in," she said.
Cashman said the team hopes the cyst was the cause of stiffness that had bothered the 12-time All-Star and caused him to see Philippon. Rodriguez was scheduled to undergo additional tests in Colorado on Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.