Hall for Col. Ruppert; knife for A-Rod
NASHVILLE – There was good news and bad news for Yankees fans coming out of baseball’s Winter Meetings Monday at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
First, the good news; another person associated with the Yankees was elected to the Hall of Fame. The Pre-Integration Era Veterans Committee elected former club owner Jacob Ruppert to the Hall, along with 19th-century catcher-third baseman Deacon White and umpire Hank O’Day.
Among Ruppert’s many contributions to the Yankees in his time as owner was the design of their pinstriped uniforms, the purchase of Babe Ruth’s contract from the Red Sox and the construction of the original Yankee Stadium, a palace among baseball parks in the 1920s. Ruppert’s nickname was “The Colonel,” even though his time as a colonel in the National Guard was short, certainly less than his four terms as a United States congressman from the Democratic Party.
“The election of Jacob Ruppert to the Hall of Fame is a great honor for the Yankees organization,” managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “Under his leadership, the Yankees became the most popular and successful team in baseball, setting the standard which we try to uphold today.”
Ruppert becomes the 48th individual enshrined in the Hall to have played, managed, coached, owned or been a general manager for the Yankees. He joins Ed Barrow, Larry MacPhail, Lee MacPhail and George Weiss among Hall of Famers who had ownership stakes or were general managers of the Yankees but never played for, coached or managed the club.
The bad news, however, is quite grim. Alex Rodriguez will require surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and will likely miss at least the first half of the 2013 season. The news, first reported by George King in the New York Post, is a severe blow to the Yankees but also serves to explain in part why the third baseman may have struggled so much during the past postseason when he hit .120 with 12 strikeouts in 25 at-bats.
“I do think that it’s a likely scenario that the struggles we saw in September and in October are more likely than not related to this issue,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said during a press conference here. “Clearly Alex was dealing with an issue that although he might be asymptomatic but the lower half and the way the mechanisms work, he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. There were times that we thought watching him that he was all arms and no legs, but again, there were no complaints, no pain, and then in the playoffs when he got pinch hit for, he did have a complaint that he felt his right hip wasn’t working right, and that was all clear.”
According to Cashman, Rodriguez told manager Joe Girardi in the dugout the night of Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles when A-Rod was lifted for pinch hitter Raul Ibanez, who hit a game-tying home run, that his right hip did not feel right. Rodriguez had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exam after the game at New York Presbyterian Hospital that did not reveal any damage.
Rodriguez had a checkup during the offseason in Vail, Colo., which showed a tear in the left hip that was confirmed in a second opinion by Dr. Bryan Kelly, who will perform the operation at the Hospital for Special Surgery after A-Rod completes a four- to six-week pre-surgery regimen. The procedure is expected to require four to six months for recovery.
With the surgery likely to be scheduled in January, the earliest Rodriguez could be expected to play would be June and more realistically after the All-Star break in July.
So what do the Yankees do about third base for the first half of next season? Cashman all but ruled out the possibility of Eduardo Nunez playing there (“We see him as a shortstop,” the GM said) and pointed out that the club got through 2012 with several players in left field filling in for injured Brett Gardner.
Jayson Nix, who has re-upped with the Yanks for 2013, could be used in part of a platoon. Eric Chavez, who played in 64 games (50 starts) at the position last season, is now a free agent.
“My sole interest is just improving the entire club,” Cashman said. “Whether we solve any issue specifically at that position of third base, I can’t really answer.”