When Alex Rodriguez's name is mentioned, there are more than a plethora of words that come to mind: slugger, All-Star, greatest, wealthy, gambler, cheater, juicer, player (in more ways than one), selfish, immature, egotistical, overpaid, pre-Madonna (you see what I did there?).
I'm sure you get the picture.
What comes to my mind now when I think about this prominent figure is one word: concern.
Why in the world would I be concerned and uncertain about his future? He's the first baseball player to record 13 consecutive 30 home run, 100 RBI seasons. He's signed to one of the most ludicrous contracts in sports history (10 years, $275 million) and won't be a free agent until 2018. He's going to break Barry Bonds' home run record and finally become the king that his ego has always made him out to be. And it's all going to happen in pinstripes with a NY stitched over his heart. Things couldn't be better!
Except for the fact that he's only played in 90 of New York's 148 baseball games in 2011. For all those out there that don't feel like grabbing the calculator quickly, have no fear. That's only 60.8% of New York's games.
Okay, okay, so maybe it's just an off-year for him.
I'm not sure about you, but I'm seriously worried about his health, not only for the remainder of 2011's contests, but for all 972 regular season games over the course of the next six years (excluding possible playoff games).
Rodriguez has been riddled by the injury bug since early 2009. He was forced to pull out of the World Baseball Classic due to a cyst in his right hip that required immediate draining. Upon drainage, it was also discovered that he was suffering from a torn labrum in the same hip. Surgery sidelined him until his dramatic first pitch homer in Camden Yards on May 8th, and you all know how that season turned out. He pulled out 30 homers and 100 RBI on the final day of the season in Tampa Bay, performed admirably (some may even say "Centaurian") in the ALDS and ALCS, and ultimately helped capture a 27th world championship for the Bombers.
After another great 2010 campaign, the injuries reappeared this season.
A torn meniscus in his right knee forced him to opt for arthroscopic knee surgery that sidelined him from July 8th to August 21st. Since then, Rodriguez has played in 10 of the Yankees' 23 games and is now experiencing a sprained left thumb that kept him out of the entire West Coast trip through Anaheim and Seattle.
While he's likely going to be penciled into tomorrow's lineup against the Toronto Blue Jays, his recent history of injuries is more than just a little concerning.
Six years is a long time to be with a team toward the end of a player's career. In the bright spotlight of New York City, six years of struggling or not living up to hype can feel like an eternity. I'm sure Derek Jeter can vouch for that, and he only struggled in 2010 and the early part of this season. If one of the most beloved Yankees of all-time was being questioned that quickly, how will Rodriguez's situation end up? Will injuries hamper his run at becoming the all-time leader in home runs? How many games over the next six years will he miss? Is it the steroids/performance-enhancing supplements that are breaking down his body?
Time will tell, but I most certainly hope the injury bug is gone for good.
Follow me on twitter @csm5206