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Alex Rodriguez likely return after All-Star break

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Alex Rodriguez likely return after All-Star break

NEW YORK (AP) Alex Rodriguez's surgeon says the New York Yankees third baseman probably will be ready to return to the field after the All-Star break.

``It would be great if he returns faster. Possible that it would take longer,'' Dr. Bryan Kelly of the Hospital for Special Surgery said Tuesday.

Kelly is scheduled to operate Jan. 16 on the 37-year-old's left hip, which has a torn labrum, bone impingement and a cyst. The procedure is estimated to take two hours,

``Can I give you a percentage chance as to whether or not he's going to be closer to the 15-year-old or the 60-year old?'' Kelly said during a 40-minute conference call. ``The imaging studies show that he has some cartilage wear that makes me think that we will get him back to his pre-injury level of play, that it's not so extensive that it will ultimately impact his ability to play. But unfortunately our imaging doesn't give us all the information, and that is something that we're going to know at the time of surgery or after the time of surgery, during that investigative portion of the procedure.''

Kelly said the condition, known as femoral acetabular impingement, was caused by genes, not by steroids. Rodriguez admitted in 2009 that he used steroids while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03.

``This is a developmental, genetic predisposition to a certain shape of the hip joint that occurs during the first 15 years of development,'' Kelly said. ``Steroids don't change the shape of your bones, of your hip joint.

Kelly said the injury was responsible for Rodriguez's poor performance in September and October, when A-Rod was benched in three of nine postseason games and pinch hit for in three others. He batted .120 (3 for 25) with no RBIs in the playoffs, including 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers.

Rodriguez is due $114 million over the next five years as part of his record $275 million, 10-year contract, so his health is a major concern for the Yankees.

Describing the bone meeting the socket, Kelly said ``we're basically taking an egg-shaped femoral head and through the use of a camera, a motorized burr and Fluoroscopic imaging, we're reshaping the bone to a predetermined shape.''

Technology is a big part of the operation.

``We have the capacity now,'' he said, ``to take our preoperative imaging and put it in a computer program, which will tell us exactly what shape we need to make it in order to provide the effective range of motion that's required for his specific sports requirements, both with his fielding position and with his offensive position.''

A 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez had right hip surgery on March 9, 2009, and returned that May 8. Kelly said the left hip requires more recovery time because Rodriguez is a right-handed hitter and rotates it when he swings.

Pete Draovitch, a certified athletic trainer and therapist who heads hip rehab at HSS, will work with Rodriguez and will design the programs, and Tony Ambler-Wright, who specializes in deep-tissue therapies and will work with A-Rod on a daily basis.

After the operation, Rodriguez will need six-to-12 weeks for the tissue to heal down to the bone but will do some range-of-motion exercises. He will then start more aggressive physical therapy such as isometrics to strengthen the area that requires ``muscle reeducation.'' That will be followed by endurance and coordination exercises.

``It's like driving with a different set of wheels on your car,'' Kelly said.

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

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NBC Sports Washington

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.