With all of Yankee Stadium on Jeter Standard Time Saturday, the prospect of Alex Rodriguez possibly needing surgery to repair his right knee slipped into the afterthought category.
But the reality for manager Joe Girardi, who won't know his third baseman's status until after Rodriguez seeks a second medical opinion Sunday, is being faced either with the temporary midseason loss of a primary offensive threat or having a limited Rodriguez available for the rest of the season.
A magnetic resonance imaging test performed Friday revealed that Rodriguez has a slight tear of the meniscus -- knee cartilage -- leaving the Yankees with two courses of possible action: "Play through it and get to the end of the year,'' Girardi said, "or have surgery and see how long he misses.''
Should Rodriguez opt for arthroscopic surgery, he likely would be lost for "sometime around a month,'' Girardi said. If he decides to grit through it, "players have done that before,'' the manager said, "but you're not sure how productive they're going to be.''
Yankees ace CC Sabathia, for instance, continued pitching with a similar injury last season, but Girardi and Sabathia said that was more doable because Sabathia is not an everyday player. The rehabilitation after surgery, said Sabathia, who also had a meniscus procedure in 2005, "is about three weeks.''
Sabathia added: "You just want him to be ready and be healthy and feel comfortable. The biggest thing after surgery is to be able to trust that you can go hard and put pressure on it.''
Rodriguez appeared in the clubhouse briefly after Saturday's 5-4 victory over Tampa Bay to say he will be examined by Dr. Lee Kaplan in Miami Sunday. Asked if he believes he could have surgery and return to action in as soon as a month, he said, "It's been done.''
Rodriguez has been dealing with discomfort since he twisted the knee during the team's series at Wrigley Field three weeks ago. And although he has been hot of late -- he's hitting .359 (23-for-64) in his last 16 games -- and his .295 average remains second to Robinson Cano's .296 among the team's regulars, his 13 home runs are noticeably below par for this time of year.
Because of the bad knee, "I just don't think he has the drive in his back side that he needs to be the power hitter he can be,'' Girardi said. "I still think he can be productive and get his base hits.''
Should Rodriguez choose to continue playing, he would not be in the lineup again until after this week's All-Star break, Girardi said, but then would continue to play third base, with an occasional assignment as the designated hitter.
On Friday, Rodriguez became the third Yankee (of six chosen) to withdraw from the All-Star Game, after Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.