The third baseman sought a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon Lee Kaplan after an MRI on Friday revealed a slight tear in the cartilage. Rodriguez was given the option of surgery or playing through the injury. He flew to Miami Sunday to meet with Kaplan, who recommended surgery, which he will perform at the University of Miami.
"There's no doubt we're going to miss him, but we need to find a way," manager Joe Girardi said in a statement. "As I've said several times already this year, some people are going to have to step up. Up to this point, this team has. We certainly look forward to getting a healthy Alex back into our lineup because we know what he adds to this team."
Rodriguez, who turns 36 July 27, has dealt with discomfort since he twisted the knee June 19 at Wrigley Field. Although he batted .359 (23-for-64) with 10 RBIs in his past 16 games, he has not hit a home run in 85 at-bats. That's the longest drought in an 18-season career in which he has hit 626 homers, sixth all-time.
For the season, A-Rod is hitting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs. He hasn't played since going 0-for-4 Thursday night against the Rays.
"You can tell sometimes, like I see him hit a ground ball and he runs hard and later in the inning he's jogging," Cano said. "I say, 'Man, you OK?' and he says, 'Oh, it's bothering me a little bit.'
". . . It's a huge blow. To lose a guy like him, that's the kind of guy you really need in your lineup. A guy who puts up good numbers, a guy who produces. A guy a pitcher doesn't want to face."
CC Sabathia had meniscus surgery for the second time after the playoffs last season. Sabathia thinks Rodriguez made the right decision.
"We definitely want him in the lineup, but we want him to be right," Sabathia said. "And he wasn't the past couple of days."
Said Russell Martin: "He seems like he was battling that knee for a little while, so I don't really see it as losing him. I feel like we're just going to gain him back healthy later on in the season when it really counts."
Rodriguez's absence might affect the team more because it's unclear whether infielder Eric Chavez will return. On Saturday, Girardi said Chavez has been having back issues. "So I can't tell you when we're going to get Chavey back,'' Girardi said, "or if we're going to get Chavey back."
Chavez, who was placed on the disabled list May 6 with a broken foot, was transferred to the 60-day DL June 8.
Eduardo Nuñez, who is batting .279 in 122 at-bats, started the past two games at third base and is expected to remain there. He had filled in at shortstop for Derek Jeter while Jeter missed 18 games with a strained calf, and the Yankees went 14-4 in that span.
Jeter was asked about the prospect of playing without A-Rod for an extended period. "I say it time and time again," he said before Sunday's 1-0 win over the Rays. "Guys get hurt and other guys have to fill in."
Added Curtis Granderson: "You definitely don't want to see a guy like that go down. At the same time, we'll continue to move on and move forward."