Malpractice Suit Poses Risks for Yankees and A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez may be setting up the Yankees with the medical-malpractice suit he filed yesterday against Yankee team Christopher Ahmad. He is putting Dr. Ahmad in a position where he may have to give Rodriguez the heads of Yankee executives.

Rodriguez claims that on October 11, 2012, he consulted Dr. Ahmad for hip pain, that Dr. Ahmad conducted an MRI and that he diagnosed a superior labral tear in Rodriguez's left hip. Dr. Ahmad never told him the nature and extent of his injury and, in fact, cleared him to play, causing further injury and the need for additional surgery, Rodriguez claims. The Yankees are not named as defendants in the suit.

This all occurred during last year's playoffs. Game 4 of the ALDS against Baltimore took place on October 11th and Game 5 took place on October 12th. Rodriguez played on October 11th but did not play on October 12th. For the series, he went 2-16 with no home runs and no runs batted. The ALCS began on October 13th, and Rodriguez played in Games 1, 2 and 4, going 1-9 with no home runs and no runs batted in. He had hip surgery after the season and did not return to the lineup until August.

Team A-Rod has already accused the Yankees of being complicit in the allegedly botched medical treatment. Two months ago, Joseph Tacopina, one of Rodriguez's lawyers, told the N.Y. Times, "They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer." (emphasis added). Thus, Team A-Rod doesn't believe that Dr. Ahmad acted alone.

In pre-trial discovery, Dr. Ahmad will be quickly asked whom he told about the injury. If he names Yankee executives, as one would expect, those Yankee executives will become the focus of the suit. It defies reason that a team physician wouldn't tell team executives about a serious injury to a $275 million star. Rodriguez's theory will be that the Yankees had him play with what they knew was a debilitating hip injury. Their motive, he will claim, was to force him to retire due to injury so they could collect on the insurance policy that covers the balance of his contract. The beauty for Rodriguez is that rather than have him cry conspiracy, he can sit back and let a Yankee employee set up the conspiracy claim for him.

Dr. Ahmad is likely to deny Rodriguez's account. He may claim that he did not make the diagnosis until after the playoffs or that that the initial diagnosis was different than or not as serious as Rodriguez claims. He may claim that Rodriguez did not honestly disclose his symptoms or that his failure to disclose all of his past PED use hindered diagnosis. Dr. Ahmad may claim that Rodriguez insisted on playing after being fully informed about the injury.

Is there a legitimate reason why the Yankees would play an injured Rodriguez in the ALCS? After all, he was struggling badly in the field and at the plate and looked less mobile than the guys who show up for Old Timers' Day. At the time, the Yankees had few options. Derek Jeter broke his ankle in Game 1, so Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix were alternating at short. Eric Chavez, the natural replacement for Rodriguez, was slumping badly.

Rodriguez is seeking monetary damages from the Yankees. He claims he suffered "great pain, agony, injury, suffering, disability, hospitalization, as well as mental anguish and emotional distress." If his 211-game suspension is upheld and he never plays again, one suspects that he will seek an extra $6 million on the theory that but for Dr. Ahmad's alleged malpractice, he would have surpassed Willie Mays on the all-time home-run list and earned his milestone $6 million bonus.

This suit poses risks for Rodriguez. Dr. Ahmad and the Yankees will use it as a vehicle to delve into Rodriguez's medical history and PED use. They will undoubtedly claim that his alleged long-term PED use caused or exacerbated his hip injury, led to complications and hindered diagnosis and treatment. They will explore his entire medical history, including treatments he received from Dr. Anthony Galea and at a German blood-spinning clinic. While the Joint Drug Agreement prevents a team from voiding a player's contract for PED use, the Yankees will look for something in the manner in which Rodriguez sought medical treatment that they can use to void his contract or force him to accept a buyout.

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