TAMPA — The Yankees are staring at the possibility of spending up to four months without three-time MVP Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, but they will try a conservative approach to his hip problem and hope he can avoid surgery.
Rodriguez has been diagnosed with a torn labrum and a cyst in his right hip. The cyst was drained Thursday, and the club was given two possible courses of treatment for the torn labrum.
The Yankees plan to try rest and exercise in hopes of getting Rodriguez through the season. If that doesn't work, he will need surgery and could be sidelined for four months.
"It doesn't mean it won't get worse," GM Brian Cashman said. "That's the gray area; that's what we're all trying to figure out. It's in our best interest because he is such an asset. Part of the conservative treatment is to limit his spring training."
Even if A-Rod makes it through the season, Cashman said his third baseman almost certainly will require surgery in the offseason.
Manager Joe Girardi said he was "shocked" by the news. He added, "It wasn't hindering him from doing anything. There really wasn't any pain, just a mild stiffness."
The immediate backup plan is to use Cody Ransom at third, but Ransom, a .251 career hitter, has only 183 at-bats in the majors. If Rodriguez is out for a longer period of time, the team could trade for a more proven third baseman.
"We are going to take this day by day, week by week, month by month," Cashman said.
Rodriguez had been scheduled to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, but the Yankees removed him from the team.
CHAMBERLAIN STRUGGLES: Joba Chamberlain walked four of the five batters he faced and failed to get an out in the first inning of the Yankees' 6-0 loss to Canada's World Baseball Classic team in Tampa. Chamberlain also allowed a single and was lifted after walking his final three hitters. He was charged with five runs in a second shaky start. "That's the best I felt physically all year, even from the get-go," Chamberlain said. "Just one of those days. Part of spring training. It was just mechanical, not getting over my front side."
RIVERA PLEASED: Closer Mariano Rivera threw off a mound for the first time since offseason shoulder surgery and expects to be ready for opening day. "I'm real pleased," said Rivera, who had surgery Oct. 7 on the AC joint in his right (throwing) shoulder. He hopes to make his spring training debut around March 17.
Phillies send Park against Jays tonight
CLEARWATER — After back-to-back exhibition games with the U.S. and Canadian teams, the Phillies return to Grapefruit League play tonight against the Blue Jays in Dunedin.
Chan Ho Park, one of four Phillies competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, is scheduled to start.
Kyle Kendrick, one of the other No. 5 hopefuls, made his second spring appearance Thursday in a 9-6 loss to Team USA. The 24-year-old allowed four runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings.
After retiring six of seven batters in the first two innings, Kendrick surrendered five straight hits with one out in the third.
"I felt good the first two innings, but then the balls found some holes," he said. "Other than that, I felt good. Obviously my line doesn't look good. But there is always room for improvement."
"He did his job," slugger Ryan Howard said. "There are going to be times when you leave a pitch up, and against a team like this, they are going to make you pay."
Howard hit his third home run in seven games in the spring.
"I felt like my swing was good," said Howard, who hit a three-run homer off Matt Lindstrom with two outs in the fifth inning. "You want to continue not to peak but move toward that peak."
FELIZ PROGRESS: Pedro Feliz (back) took batting practice with the Phillies for the first time this spring. He may get into a game late next week.