Yankees update: A-Rod avoids surgery, Nick Johnson returns to club

Turns out, Alex Rodriguez won’t need that hip surgery after all. Shortly after admitting to steroid use in February, team doctors told Rodriguez to expect reconstructive surgery at the end of 2009 to repair his torn labrum. In a stroke of luck for both Rodriguez and the Yankees, he’s now escaped missing a potential ten weeks from the new season.

Rodriguez had surgery last March for torn cartilage and missed the first month of the season. At the time, Dr. Marc Philippon, who performed the operation, thought Rodriguez would need a more extensive procedure in the offseason.

But Philippon recently examined Rodriguez, and an MRI test helped show the three-time MVP had properly healed. The doctor told A-Rod that he was A-OK on Monday.

Otherwise, Rodriguez probably would’ve been “having surgery today,” he said at a Yankee Stadium news conference to formally introduce Curtis Granderson.

The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if he was every really hurt. I’ve never heard of an athlete avoiding surgery on a torn labrum. Remember, Mike Lowell had the same problem. He desperately needed the surgery.

In other news, slugger Nick Johnson is returning to the Yankees after agreeing to a one-year, $5.5 million contract. Johnson began his career with the team in 2001.

Johnson must pass a physical for the agreement to be finalized. He can earn about $1 million more in performance bonuses next year, and the deal includes a 2011 mutual option for at least $5.5 million with possible escalators.

Johnson, a first baseman, will become replace Matsui as the Yankees’ DH and Melky Cabrera appears likely to take over from Damon in left. Johnson hit a combined .291 for Washington and Florida last season with eight homers, 62 RBIs, 99 walks, a .426 on-base percentage and a .405 slugging percentage. He figures to bat second for the Yankees behind Derek Jeter.

Nick Johnson, really? The guy has been hurt most of his career. The Yankees should have stuck with Hideki Matsui, a sure bet who signed with the Angels for only half a million more than what Johnson will receive.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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