TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez underwent arthroscopic surgery Monday to repair torn cartilage in his right hip, and doctors said they found nothing that would keep him from returning to the lineup in May.
"The surgery went exactly as we planned," said Dr. Marc Philippon, who performed the 80-minute procedure at Vail Valley Surgery Center in Colorado. "No surprises."
Other options considered were a more aggressive surgery that would have sidelined Rodriguez up to four months and a conservative approach that would have included rest and treatment.
"There is no doubt in our minds that this was the best option," Philippon said. "This was the best option for Alex and the Yankees."
General manager Brian Cashman expects the three-time AL MVP back on the field "sometime in May." Rodriguez will need a more extensive operation after the season, and Philippon said Rodriguez will "absolutely" be ready for spring training in 2010.
Rodriguez was expected to be released from the hospital later Monday and to start his rehab. He was to perform range of motion drills and ride a stationary bike.
"Alex is doing well," Philippon said. "Over the next few days, until Friday, we will work on his range of motion. Hopefully by Friday or Sunday, we will starting working on his muscle memory and adding range of motion that involves the rotation of a batter when he swings."
Manager Joe Girardi said the immediate start of Rodriguez's rehab program was encouraging.
"That's pretty amazing," Girardi said after the Yankees lost 6-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays. "That makes me feel like that the six to nine weeks is doable. The one thing about Alex, we know he's going to work and work and work. It might be a case that we have to hold him back a little bit."
Rodriguez suffered from a torn labrum -- cartilage that lines the hip socket to stabilize and cushion the joint. Philippon said he found a small impingement in the cartilage.
"Any athlete knows injuries are part of the game," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "It's not how you got injured, it's how you respond. I think Alex is going to be great. It's more important for him to be healthy during the stretch run and during our playoff push."
Toronto manager Cito Gaston said the Yankees can overcome the loss of Rodriguez at the start the regular season.
"They're going to miss him, but I still think they have enough offense that they'll do fine until he comes back," Gaston. "They will have to pitch, though. They certainly have the pitchers there that are capable of pitching well."
New York added CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett during the offseason to stabilize its starting rotation. The Yankees also hope catcher Jorge Posada, closer Mariano Rivera and left fielder Hideki Matsui respond from surgery and help the team get off to a fast start in the AL East.
"I feel like this team is going to win if we pitch well, whether Alex is here or not, to tell you the truth," left-hander Andy Pettitte said. "Everybody's lineup is so good. It's tough to pitch in this division. I think we're going to win because, hopefully, we outpitch the other people."
New York finished third last season, ending its streak of 13 consecutive postseason appearances.
"We were banged up last year at the beginning of the season. So we need to find a way to get it done," Pettitte said. "Hopefully, we can get everybody going as far as the rotation and we pitch well. We know Alex is going to drive in a lot of runs, but that production might not be there. We'll just have to pitch a little bit better."
In other news, Rivera threw 30 pitches during his third bullpen session. Coming back from surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder last Oct. 7, Rivera is scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday and could make his spring training debut about March 17.
"I'm right on track," Rivera said. "Everything will depend on how the arm feels. So far it's been feeling good."
Rivera expects to be ready for Opening Day on April 6.
Matsui, who had left knee surgery last Sept. 22, reported no problems after playing consecutive games for the first time this year on Saturday and Sunday.