David Lennon David Lennon has been a staff writer for

David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.

He was named one of the top 10 columnists in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors in 2014 and also took first place in that category for New York State that same year.

Lennon began covering baseball for Newsday as the Yankees' beat writer in 1995, the season the Bombers snapped a 14-year playoff drought by becoming the American League's first wild-card team. Two World Series rings later, Lennon left the Yankees' beat after the 1998 season, bounced between the Bronx and Shea for the next three years, then took over on the Mets for the demise of Bobby Valentine in 2002. He became Newsday's national baseball writer in 2012.

Lennon also is a Hall of Fame voter, a former Chairman of the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America and co-author of "The Great New York Sports Debate."
Show More

NASHVILLE, Tenn.

Fresh off scaling the side of a 22-story building, tied to a rope and dressed as a Christmas elf, Brian Cashman took an even greater leap of faith Monday in saying that surgeons will fix Alex Rodriguez.

Four years after having his right hip repaired, A-Rod now needs major work on the left one, a more elaborate operation that involves not only a torn labrum, but also a "bone impingement" and "correction of a cyst." For those who skipped medical school, the difference in severity between Rodriguez's 2009 surgery and what he's facing next month is significant.

The first hip operation cost A-Rod the first five weeks of the season. Cashman said this one should require four to six months, and the Yankees general manager prefers to think on the longer side for a player who will be 38 in July.

"The expectation is he's going to return," Cashman said. "This is the strongest reason and the most likely reason that he wasn't the player he was capable of being, and by fixing this, this will put him back in position to provide the maximum potential he has at that stage.

"What that is -- I don't know."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The uncertainty surrounding A-Rod is paralyzing to the Yankees. At a cost of $114 million over the next five years, it's not like Rodriguez can just be replaced and put on the sidewalk, like a broken refrigerator. Cashman talked about securing a space-holder for A-Rod until he's ready to come back, but this is not a hamstring strain or a broken bone.

It's more complicated than that, and citing the Yankees' resilience of this past season -- when they endured the losses of Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and yes, A-Rod -- doesn't instill much confidence that they can rebound to win 95 games again.

"This stuff happens to every team in the game, and it's how you handle it, how you deal with it," Cashman said. "I think we've been down this road enough in a lot of different ways. You just have to take a step back, recognize it, deal with it and move forward."

With almost zero contribution from A-Rod last September, the Yankees barely held off the Orioles to win the AL East, then narrowly beat Baltimore in the Division Series. Ultimately, their slumping lineup imploded in a four-game sweep by the Tigers.

In a different time, without the fear of a luxury tax, the Yankees would have swept in to sign Josh Hamilton or B.J. Upton or Mike Napoli.

But now the Yankees are bracing to pay A-Rod $28 million this season for what, at best, will be three to four months of limited production. At worst, maybe Rodriguez doesn't even make it back this year. Cashman didn't push the medical staff for specifics, but it's safe to say Rodriguez isn't likely to make the same impact he did after the 2009 surgery.

That year, A-Rod returned May 8, played 124 games, and hit 30 home runs with 100 RBIs. The hip was an afterthought as the Yankees won the World Series -- thanks to a big October from Rodriguez.

Cashman repeatedly said that A-Rod's hip issues seriously hindered him during the playoffs this year, but it's no longer necessary to make excuses for that humiliating chapter of Rodriguez's Bronx career. Looking at the road ahead of him now, after twin hip surgeries, those October benchings will be dismissed as a footnote, and possibly the beginning of the end.

"We will wait for Alex," Cashman said. "We will cushion the blow."

There's no doubt the GM believes that. But without fully knowing what lies ahead for A-Rod, the reality could be something different, something uglier over time. Some mistakes can't be fixed.