"Best-case scenario, yeah, he should be back," Cashman said. "Worst-case scenario, he won't be back, or there might be something in between."
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Initially, the Yankees had forecast something in between, a six-month recovery period that would have Rodriguez rejoining the Yankees sometime after the All-Star break. But Cashman said the nature of the injury offers few guarantees, meaning that surgery could cost Rodriguez the entire season.
Said Cashman: "I think because [of] the serious nature of the surgery and the condition that he's trying to recover from, you know, there is that chance."
Rodriguez, 37, had arthroscopic surgery Jan. 16 to repair a labrum tear and impingement in his left hip. The procedure was similar but not identical to one on his right hip in 2009 that sidelined him for two months.
Rodriguez hit .272 with 18 homers in 122 regular-season games in 2012 before enduring a postseason meltdown, going 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts and no extra-base hits.
The Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis to a one-year, $12-million deal as Rodriguez's fill-in at third base.
The Yankees avoided arbitration with setup man David Robertson on Friday, agreeing to a one-year, $3.1-million contract with the righthander, who has evolved into a stalwart in the Yankees' bullpen. Robertson, 27, went 2-7 with a 2.67 ERA in 65 appearances. He racked up 81 strikeouts in 602/3 innings for the Yankees, who avoided hearings with all five of their arbitration-eligible players.