Asked on Friday's conference call for a realistic assessment of Alex Rodriguez' chances to come back and play third base in 2013 following his second hip surgery in January, GM Brian Cashman said, "(Youkilis) will be penciled in as our everyday third baseman until Alex comes back. The expectation is Alex will be back but there’s no guarantee of that nature either. He hasn’t even had the surgery yet. It’s a very important surgery and hopefully he will get a thunmbs-up that everything is going as planned, or as hoped. But I'm not going to guarantee anything about when he’s coming back or how he’ll come back. Well just have to wait and see."
Obviously, no GM, or doctor even, can guarantee full recovery after major surgery, especially on a soon-to-be 39-year-old athlete who relies on quickness and leg drive the way A-Rod does.
But I was struck by Cashman's repeated use of the word "hope" when talking about A-Rod's prospects for recovery not only this season, but for the remainder of his five-year deal with the Yankees, over the courser of which they will be obliged to pay him $114 million.
"We hope that we’ll be able to bring him back as the high-caliber player that we hoped to have prior to these injuries," Cashman said. "But our season and our team is going on regardless. That’s why this was such an important acquisition in signing Youkilis.
"When he was asked if expected A-Rod to be a productive player for the bulk of his remaining contract," Cashman said, "I just don’t know. I think we’re going to take it step by step. I can tell you this, Alex will do everything in his power physically in terms of work ethic to conquer this and to succeed in his rehab. But I'm not in a position to guarantee anything or to frame what the realistic expectations are over the next five years in terms of what we’re going to get from him. I just think we’re going to have to play it out and see."