Alex Rodriguez tosses his bat in disgust after striking out...

Alex Rodriguez tosses his bat in disgust after striking out during the second inning of a game against the Baltimore Orioles. Credit: AP, 2005

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Brian Cashman's message seemed to be this: Blood is not in the water.

"If people want to try and take advantage of the circumstance and have us pay twice the prices, then we're not going to do anything there," the Yankees general manager said Monday. "We'll just deal with what we've got and wait it out."

What the Yankees have on the left side of their infield is trouble, in the form of 38-year-old Derek Jeter recovering from a broken left ankle and Monday's bombshell that 37-year-old Alex Rodriguez will miss four to six months after he has surgery on his left hip in January.

Rodriguez had a similar procedure on his right hip in March 2009. Dr. Bryan Kelly will perform this one at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

"It's just more conducive for aftercare," Cashman said of why Colorado-based Dr. Marc Philippon, who did the first operation, isn't doing this one. "His post-surgery he can do in New York. It's a big difference from Vail."

Cashman insisted A-Rod's career is not in jeopardy and predicted Rodriguez will be back at third base by July. Fine, but what about the three months before that?

"I can't tell you what our Opening Day situation's going to be there yet," Cashman said. "We have some time to deal with that, but it's not an easy position to fill. We're going to get Alex back at some point, but other teams don't have a third baseman and the choices aren't pretty . . . Right now with what I have, my job is to look for better, but we're also prepared to go with what we have if that's what's mandated by how the circumstances play out."

Cashman, while focusing on pitching this offseason, has kept a close eye on infielders. That's because yesterday's news surprised everyone but the Yankees, who somehow had kept A-Rod's condition secret.

Cashman said Rodriguez first complained of pain -- oddly in his right hip and not his left -- after Game 3 of the ALDS, in which Raul Ibañez pinch hit for him in the ninth and homered.

An ensuing MRI came back clean, but during an end-of-season evaluation with Dr. Philippon in Colorado, the labrum tear in the left hip was discovered, along with a bone impingement and the need to correct a cyst. After getting a second opinion from Dr. Kelly, surgery was scheduled.

Both doctors concluded that Rodriguez's playoff slump (3-for-25, 12 strikeouts) could be attributed to the hip.

It wasn't immediately clear exactly when the pain started, which Cashman didn't find all that intriguing. And he's looking ahead, not backward.

"I'd rather not say [it's a] must," he said of securing infield help. "I'll just say we will try to accomplish upgrades where practical. But if it's not practical, then we're not going to do it."

Free agents Stephen Drew, Jeff Keppinger and Marco Scutaro have been on the Yankees' radar. They were interested in Scutaro before last season's trade deadline, though the Giants obtained the eventual NLCS MVP from the Rockies. Another option is Eric Chavez, a Yankees reserve last season who is a free agent.

On the trade front, Indians GM Chris Antonetti has said he'll listen on shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, and Astros infielder Jed Lowrie is a possibility. The Yankees looked into acquiring Chase Headley before the deadline but the Padres don't seem inclined to deal the third baseman.

In house, Cashman said, as of now, shortstop Eduardo Nuñez isn't an option. And forget about Jeter going to third.

"No, I'm glad you asked that so we can get it out of the way," Cashman said.

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